Founded in 2000, CureVac pioneered the discovery of the potential of messenger RNA (also known as mRNA) to treat diseases and produce vaccines. It was the first company worldwide to successfully use mRNA for medical purposes. The single-stranded messenger molecules of ribonucleic acid (mRNA) contain genetic information for the structure of certain proteins in a cell. These are transcribed as a code in the sequence of the nucleobases of the molecules. The research and optimization of this genetic »construction manual« hold great potential for biopharmaceutical research. For example, it can be used to stimulate cells of the human immune system to initiate important reactions to fight or prevent diseases. However, the mRNA biomolecules are very unstable on their own, making them unable to withstand being transported to their destination within the human body. As a doctoral student, CureVac’s founder, Dr. Ingmar Hoerr, discovered how to optimize mRNA for use as a therapeutic vaccine or active ingredient when administered directly into the tissue. The company uses its proprietary technologies to develop prophylactic vaccines, cancer therapies, antibody therapies, and protein therapies.
Today, more than 600 people work at CureVac. The most important and best-known project at present is an mRNA vaccine against the novel coronavirus SARSCoV-2. Read more about the research on this vaccine candidate and how Fraunhofer IPK is helping to equip the mRNA molecules with their own protective shield in the previous article.