Home Latest News Nobel Prize honors creators of COVID-19 vaccines’ foundation: Pioneering Scientists

Nobel Prize honors creators of COVID-19 vaccines’ foundation: Pioneering Scientists

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Nobel Prize honors creators of COVID-19 vaccines’ foundation: Pioneering Scientists

Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó and American immunologist Drew Weissman have been awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking research that paved the way for the development of mRNA-based vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines. The pair met at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and collaborated for decades to explore the potential of messenger RNA (mRNA) to create vaccines. Their discovery involved modifying a chemical building block of mRNA to prevent the immune system from destroying it, allowing it to stimulate protection against viruses instead. Their seminal work, published in 2005, laid the foundation for the mRNA vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

The impact of Karikó and Weissman’s work cannot be overstated, with mRNA vaccines being administered over 13 billion times worldwide. These vaccines have not only saved millions of lives and prevented severe COVID-19 cases, but they have also contributed to the reopening of societies and the reduction of the overall disease burden. The Nobel committee believes that the recognition of Karikó and Weissman’s achievements may help overcome vaccine hesitancy and encourage more people to get vaccinated, thus saving even more lives. Furthermore, their discovery has sparked interest in using mRNA technology to tackle other diseases, such as the flu and potentially even cancer.

Both Karikó and Weissman faced significant challenges throughout their research journey. They struggled to secure funding and publication opportunities, and many initially dismissed their work on mRNA. However, their perseverance and dedication paid off, leading to a fundamental shift in our understanding of how mRNA interacts with the immune system. Weissman emphasized the long road they had to travel, while Karikó acknowledged the support of her mother, who never lost hope that her daughter would win a Nobel Prize. As the 13th woman among the 227 recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, Karikó’s achievement also highlights the need for increased representation of women in scientific accolades.

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