April 13, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Nobel Prize goes to scientists behind mRNA Covid vaccines

The Nepal Weekly
October 3, 2023

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to a pair of scientists who developed the technology that led to the manufacturing of mRNA Covid vaccines. The prize will be shared between Professors Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman.

The technology was experimental before the pandemic, but has now been given to millions of people around the world to protect them against serious Covid-19. The same mRNA technology is now being researched for other diseases, including cancer.

The Nobel Prize committee said: “The laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”

Both were told they had won by telephone this morning and were said to be “overwhelmed”. Vaccines train the immune system to recognise and fight threats such as viruses or bacteria.

Traditional vaccine technology has been based on dead or weakened versions of the original virus or bacterium – or by using fragments of the infectious agent.

In contrast, messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines use a completely differently approach. During the Covid pandemic, the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines were both based on mRNA technology.

Professor Kariko and Professor Weissman met in the early 1990s when they were working at the University of Pennsylvania, in the United States, when their interest in mRNA was seen as a scientific backwater.