Tesla, the electric car company founded and run by Elon Musk, is building mobile molecular printers to assist Germany’s CureVac in manufacturing its experimental COVID-19 vaccine.
Musk tweeted the information on Wednesday, July 1. The “printers” are portable, automated messenger RNA (mRNA) production units, which Musk referred to as “RNA microfactories.”
CureVac’s approach to a COVID-19 vaccine is built on mRNA technology, similar to what is being used by Moderna, Pfizer and BioNTech. It takes a small piece of messenger RNA that codes for a specific molecule on the virus’s surface. When injected into the body, it causes cells to churn out that molecule, which will train the immune system to identify the virus and neutralize it before it can replicate. No mRNA products have been approved for use yet.