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Mike Donio has a new blog post up on the Still in the Storm Substack!!

Still in the Storm is a newsletter about navigating the storm by building strength in faith and health.

https://stillinthestorm.substack.com/p/are-we-really-all-in-this-together?justPublished=true

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Through the Eyes of a Scientist

What is This mRNA Stuff I’ve Been Hearing About?

Knowledge is power and we are in the midst of one of the greatest information wars in human history.  The best ammo that you can have is to do your own research so, that you are well armed with an understanding of the issues we face today.  At the forefront of all issues these days is… drum roll… COVID-19!!  Shocked, right?  Bet you never would have guessed.  Let’s put aside for a minute all those thoughts and questions you have about the virus and delve into the heart of a choice we are now all being faced with daily.  To vaccinate or not, that is the question.  Today I want to help arm you with a little bit of background on the key element of at least two of the main Covid-19 vaccines that are currently in use.  Before 2020 I bet hardly anyone heard the term “mRNA”.  Now everyone is likely being bombarded with it but, do you know what it really is and what it does?  It’s a critical point to understand and it might even surprise you.  So, let’s dig into mRNA!  And no, you don’t need an advanced degree in biology to understand this.  

Disclaimer: Do not believe a word I say!  Wait.  What??  So, why am I wasting my time with this?  I have 20 years of experience as a research scientist and what I will present below will certainly draw on the knowledge I have ascertained over those years but don’t stop there.  My goal is to motivate you to do your own research and validate what I’ve told you.  Frankly that’s best practice for anything you read these days.  

Alright, so what is this mRNA stuff I’ve been hearing about?  First off, mRNA stands for messenger RNA and RNA stands for ribonucleic acid, so put together its messenger ribonucleic acid.  That’s a mouthful and certainly doesn’t clarify anything.  In order to understand what mRNA is and what it is used for we need to take a small step back.  Not that far, but just back to what is typically the source template for all mRNA or DNA, otherwise known as deoxyribonucleic acid.  I assume most people have heard of DNA but, in case you haven’t here is a brief primer.  DNA, or Deoxyribonucleic Acid is basically like a computer programing code for all of life.  It is made up of nucleotide base pairs (AT or GC), the sequence of which encode genes. The sequence of ATGCs tells the cell which proteins to make as they are needed, thus why it is known as the genetic code.  mRNA is a key part of translating that sequence of DNA nucleotides into a protein.  

DNA has been proposed to exist in a helical structure of two paired strands.  When a gene is expressed the first thing that happens is the DNA is converted into RNA by a process known as transcription.  RNA is single stranded and as you will see this is required to get it translated into the amino acid sequence that makes up a protein.  The RNA transcript then undergoes several steps of processing which in turn leads to it becoming messenger RNA.  See when the RNA strand is first produced from the DNA template it contains regions which do not encode anything, or so we are told.  These are known as introns, and they are removed or spliced out of the RNA leaving only the parts that encode for the desired protein or exons.  The RNA molecule then gets some additions to its ends prior to being considered mature mRNA.  It is from this piece of mRNA that the resulting protein will be made.  

Before we go any further, I want to make one other key point.  The DNA exists in the nucleus and the entire piece of genomic DNA is an incredibly long molecule.  To manage this and fit it is wound around proteins known as histones to form structures which are called nucleosomes.  These are further bunched up and ultimately come together in what we know as chromosomes.  Each cell has two pairs of each chromosome and humans have 23 so, this would be 46 in total.  Pretty amazing, right?

Well, the DNA is transcribed into RNA in the nucleus as one might expect but, then it needs to be transported out for the other steps.  This part bears further pondering but, we can save that for another post.  Moving along, the transcribed RNA having been moved out of the nucleus is processed into mature mRNA.  It then moves into what is known as a ribosome where it becomes the template for the amino acids which make up a given protein.  Just to quickly back up, proteins are essentially chains of amino acids that have various structures and functions.  If it’s helpful we can go further into all of this in another post but, I don’t want to veer too far off from our focus of mRNA.  So, just to recap we have DNA being transcribed into RNA which is processed into mRNA which in turn serves as a template or code which enables translation into a protein.  This is what in biology is known as the Central Dogma (DNA à RNA à protein).  

Now here’s where it gets interesting and why there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of mRNA for vaccines.  For a while the assumption was that this process on flowed in one direction.  In other words, you could only go from DNA to RNA to protein and not backwards or have any other outcome.  But what if that is not entirely correct and let’s say for example that RNA could be written back into DNA?  In theory, that would mean that a change that occurred in the RNA could be conferred back into the DNA where it would be passed on to daughter cells upon division.  In fact, it is now known that by a process called reverse transcription that it is possible.1,2,3 Wow, right?  Now stay with me here for just a bit longer.  An important thing to note about mRNA is that it is thought to only persist for a short time, just long enough to enable translation into a protein and is then rapidly degraded.  In that case, it might not be as likely for it to be reverse transcribed back into DNA.  Now if you were to modify the mRNA such that it would persist longer to ensure that you go a significant amount of protein production.  Well then you may increase the chance that it could be rewritten back into the DNA.  It’s also not clear what other impacts that modification might have.  In fact, mRNA is highly immunogenic which is one reason why it doesn’t persist long.  So, what might happen if it were to stick around a lot longer that naturally intended?  You may invoke an undesirable immune response for example.  This just happens to be what they are doing to the mRNA in these new so-called vaccines for Covid-19.  The original name of one of the big companies making these vaccines literally was ModeRNA Therapeutics with the idea being to use modified RNA as a therapeutic.  As one of their top scientists said in a 2017 TED talk, “We are actually hacking the software of life”4.   

At this point, I want to send you off to do your own research and make sure that I haven’t deceived you.  Might also be a good time to ask yourself whether you are comfortable with a big corporation who is heavily funded by the government and other big global interests having the ability to hack the software of your life.  Last I checked God is the author all life so, this would be directly opposed to him.  Now that’s something to consider!

God Bless and go to battle!

References1. https://www.genengnews.com/news/study-turns-central-dogma-on-its-head/2. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/sciadv.abf17713. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-642-65578-4_14. http://wethepeopleconvention.org/articles/Hacking-Software-of-Life

~Mike Donio

Stay tuned for more writings from Mike about Faith, Health and Healing…