Development of mRNA vaccines and their prophylactic and therapeutic applications

Kyuri Lee, Minjeong Kim, Yunmi Seo, Hyukjin Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Nucleic acid vaccines have attracted enormous attention for resolving the limitations of conventional vaccines using live attenuated viruses. Because nucleic acid vaccines can be produced rapidly in response to the emergence of new virus strains, they are more appropriate for the control of urgent epidemic and pandemic issues. In particular, messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines have evolved as a new type of nucleic acid vaccines in accordance with their superior protein expression and a lack of mutagenesis as compared with DNA vaccines. Using mRNA vaccines, large amounts of target proteins can be expressed in immune cells for efficient immunization. For instance, antigen-specific vaccination is a feasible option involving the expression of specific antigens in antigen-presenting cells. Immunological reactions are modulated by expressing several proteins associated with stimulation or maturation of immune cells. In addition, mRNA vaccines can stimulate innate immunity through specific recognition by pattern recognition receptors. On the basis of these remarkable properties, mRNA vaccines have been used for prophylactic and therapeutic applications. This review highlights the role of mRNA vaccines as prophylactic vaccines for prevention of future infections and as therapeutic vaccines for cancer immunotherapy. In addition to the conventional type of mRNA vaccines, RNA replicons (self-amplifying mRNA vaccines) will be described.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5173-5192
Number of pages20
JournalNano Research
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, Tsinghua University Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


  • cancer immunotherapy
  • messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines
  • prophylactic vaccines
  • self-amplifying mRNA vaccines
  • therapeutic vaccine


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