Difference between DNA and RNA Vaccines

DNA Vaccines

This type of vaccine transfects a specific DNA sequence into the infected organism to create an immune response. Usually, vaccines have DNA sequences that code for a specific antigen. The DNA vaccines are injected into the organism’s cell via a plasmid vector. The vector is transfected into the cell’s nucleus, and they code for protein biosynthesis of an antigen. Normal cells recognize these foreign molecules (proteins) and elicit an immune response. Most DNA vaccines are still under experimental process.

The recent ZyCoV-D is a DNA vaccine for Covid that was emergency approved by the Indian authorities.

RNA Vaccines

This vaccine uses a copy of mRNA (messenger RNA) molecule to create an immune response. It delivers the antigen-encoding mRNA into the dendritic cells, which use the mRNA as a template to create foreign proteins. These foreign proteins, in turn, stimulate an immune response. Here, the mRNA is usually delivered by a co-formulation of the RNA encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles.

The recent Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine is an example of an RNA vaccine. The ultimate goal of RNA vaccines is to elicit an adaptive immune response that creates antibodies that target specific pathogens.

Difference between DNA and RNA Vaccines

DNA Vaccines RNA Vaccines
This vaccine transfects specific DNA to create an immune response. This vaccine transfects mRNA to create an immune response.
DNA vaccine is delivered through plasmid vectors. RNA vaccine is delivered through lipid nanoparticles.
It is highly stable for storage and shipping. It is comparatively less stable.
They might integrate with the natural genome of the host. They do not enter the cell nucleus and integrate with the host genome.

Also Read: Difference between Vaccination and Immunisation

Frequently Asked Questions on Difference between DNA and RNA Vaccines


What are vaccines?

It is any biological preparation that creates an active immune response against a particular pathogen. It typically has the weakened or attenuated form of the microbe. This creates the first-ever immune response for a specific disease. The memory of this pathogen attack is built up so that the body can fight in case of exposure in the future.


What is a genetic vaccine?

It is a gene-based vaccine with nucleic acids such as RNA or DNA. It leads to protein synthesis of antigens within the host cell and thereby creates an immune response. They include RNA vaccines, DNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines.


What is transfection?

It is a process of deliberately introducing purified or naked RNA/DNA into an organism. Sometimes, even antibodies can be transfected.

Also see: Difference between DNA and RNA

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