Vaccines' New Era-RNA Vaccine

Viruses. 2023 Aug 18;15(8):1760. doi: 10.3390/v15081760.


RNA vaccines, including conventional messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines, circular RNA (circRNA) vaccines, and self-amplifying RNA (saRNA) vaccines, have ushered in a promising future and revolutionized vaccine development. The success of mRNA vaccines in combating the COVID-19 pandemic caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that emerged in 2019 has highlighted the potential of RNA vaccines. These vaccines possess several advantages, such as high efficacy, adaptability, simplicity in antigen design, and the ability to induce both humoral and cellular immunity. They also offer rapid and cost-effective manufacturing, flexibility to target emerging or mutant pathogens and a potential approach for clearing immunotolerant microbes by targeting bacterial or parasitic survival mechanisms. The self-adjuvant effect of mRNA-lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulations or circular RNA further enhances the potential of RNA vaccines. However, some challenges need to be addressed. These include the technology's immaturity, high research expenses, limited duration of antibody response, mRNA instability, low efficiency of circRNA cyclization, and the production of double-stranded RNA as a side product. These factors hinder the widespread adoption and utilization of RNA vaccines, particularly in developing countries. This review provides a comprehensive overview of mRNA, circRNA, and saRNA vaccines for infectious diseases while also discussing their development, current applications, and challenges.

Keywords: circular RNA vaccine; drug delivery system; infectious diseases; mRNA vaccine; saRNA vaccine.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Messenger
  • SARS-CoV-2 / genetics
  • Smallpox Vaccine*


  • Smallpox Vaccine
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Double-Stranded

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the projects from Shanghai Science and Technology Plan 2022, the 4th batch of an emergency special projects (22YJ1900800), Shanghai, the 18th batch of strategic emerging Industry Development special fund project, mRNA vaccine platform construction and new product development (CNBG-FNJ-003), Establishment of high-throughput mRNA screening automation and platform (CNBG-FNJ-004).