Elon Musk

Tesla Is Entering Biomedical Field With CureVac In Germany, Hints Elon Musk


Featured Image Credit: Ospedale Bambino Gesú/Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]

Tesla may have entered the biomedical field based on Elon Musk’s recent responses on Twitter. According to Musk, Tesla has been working with leading clinical state biotechnology company CureVac in Germany. CureVac is developing an mRNA-based vaccine against the C-19 virus, and Tesla seems to be helping. 

“In principle, I think synthetic RNA (and DNA) has amazing potential. This basically makes the solution to many diseases a software problem,” replied Elon Musk to a question about his thought on RNA vaccines by @SamTalksTesla. Musk later followed-up his reply, tweeting: “Tesla, as a side project is building RNA microfactories for CureVac & possibly others.”

Biotech company CureVac has been working on an mRNA-based vaccine against the novel coronavirus since early January 2020. Later that month, the CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) foundation granted CureVac additional initial funding of up to US$8.3 million to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and clinical tests for its mRNA-based vaccine. 

mRNA vaccines are relatively new in the medical world, and most of the information about them comes from research focused on cancer. Traditional vaccines are made out of small and usually inactivated pieces of the disease-causing organisms or the proteins the virus or bacteria produces in the body. The small or inactivated pieces are injected into the body, provoking the immune system to activate and create cells to defend against “intruders.”

In contrast, mRNA vaccines trick the body into making the proteins a disease-causing organism produces in the body. This new type of vaccine uses mRNA or messenger RNA, which carries copied genetic information for protein synthesis from DNA. For mRNA vaccines, scientists create a synthetic version of the mRNA to build infectious proteins that could form the virus. 

Horizon, the EU Research & Innovation Magazine, noted the proteins made from mRNA vaccines are solitary and can not assemble to form a virus. However, they are enough to trigger a response from the immune system and provoke it to prepare a defensive response against the virus. 

Tesla’s role in mRNA vaccines might lie in the manufacturing stage, particularly as Elon Musk stated that the company's Grohmann facilities are being utilized for the initiative. One of the benefits of mRNA vaccines is that they are relatively easy to produce at a large scale, making it perfect for combating COVID-19. In mid-June 2020, CureVac received regulatory approval from German and Belgian Authorities to start Phase 1 of its clinical trials for its lead mRNA vaccine candidate. 

About the Author

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Ma. Claribelle Deveza

Longtime writer and news/book editor. Writing about Tesla allows me to contribute something good to the world, while doing something I love.

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