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The technology used in a pair of pioneering Covid-19 vaccines works by effectively revving up the immune system to fight off the virus that causes the disease. But what if that same approach could be used to turn the immune system down to treat autoimmune disorders?

BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer on a leading Covid-19 vaccine, is seeking to test that theory with synthetic messenger RNA — using it to coax the body into accepting a specific protein instead of turning natural defenses against it. Studies conducted in mice suggest they might be onto something.

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