mRNA Vaccines for Preventing Plague: Microbial Minutes

July 5, 2023

A new mRNA vaccine protects mice from the infection by Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. What do the findings mean for the development of antibacterial mRNA vaccines?

What's Hot in the Microbial Sciences?

ASM presents Microbial Minutes, a video series of trending topics in the microbial sciences.

mRNA lipid nanoparticle (mRNA-LNP) vaccines have only been deployed in the context of viral diseases, namely COVID-19. However, researchers have found a way to use the technology to target bacterial pathogens, specifically developing a mRNA-LNP vaccine that is 100% effective at protecting mice from infection by Yersinia pestis, the bacterium that causes plague. Here, we discuss these findings, and their broader health implications. Key take-aways and resources used in this Microbial Minutes are listed below. 

Key Take-Aways

  • mRNA vaccines have proven effective against viral diseases, though exploration of their antibacterial potential has been limited.
  • Researchers developed an mRNA-LNP vaccine that is 100% effective against Y. pestis in mice.
  • The results pave the way for development of mRNA vaccines targeting a diverse range of bacterial pathogens.


The Study

  • Kon E., et al. A single-dose F1-based mRNA-LNP vaccine provides protectiong against lethal plague bacterium. Science AdvancesMarch 8, 2023. 

Additional Sources

  • Aizenman, N. Frozen cells reveal a clue for a vaccine to block the deadly TB bug. NPR. March 6, 2023. 
  • Ghert-Zand R. Israeli scientists produce world’s first mRNA vaccine for bacteria. The Times of Israel. March, 4 2023.
  • Tel Aviv University. Researchers develop a 100%-effective mRNA vaccine for deadly bacteria. News Medical. March 9, 2023.
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Author: Madeline Barron, Ph.D.

Madeline Barron, Ph.D.
Madeline Barron, Ph.D. is the Science Communications Specialist at ASM. She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.