Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, two pioneers of mRNA research, were awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize in Medicine or Physiology for their work that paved the way for the development of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines. Despite initially facing rejections and hurdles, Karikó and Weissman made crucial discoveries about messenger RNA (mRNA) and its interaction with the immune system. This research led to the rapid development of Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna’s mRNA-based Covid-19 vaccines. The Nobel Committee highlighted their collaboration as an example of complementary expertise. Despite the recognition, Karikó maintains that the main goal was to create products that benefit humankind. Besides being vital in combating COVID-19, mRNA vaccines are being explored for potential therapeutic applications against an array of diseases, such as cancer and HIV, due to the technology’s adaptability.
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[Source: STAT, October 2nd, 2023]