Today, the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institute announced that the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman “for their discoveries in nucleobase modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA (messenger RNA) against COVID-19.” ) vaccine is possible.” Dr. Karikó is a professor at the University of Szeged and an adjunct professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Weissman is the Roberts Family Professor of Vaccine Research and director of the RNA Innovation Institute at the University of Pennsylvania.
According to the Nobel Assembly, Karikó and Weissman’s research laid the foundation for the development of a COVID-19 mRNA vaccine. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines were based on: (1) killing or weakening viruses, such as polio, measles, and yellow fever vaccines; and (2) using parts of the virus’s genetic code that encode proteins on its surface to stimulate viral resistance. Break the formation of antibodies, such as vaccines against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus; (3) Put part of the viral genetic code into a harmless carrier virus, called a vector, such as the Ebola virus vaccine.The Nobel Assembly reported that each of these methods required large-scale cell culture, which limited the possibility of rapid vaccine production, and that although messenger RNA vaccines were also being studied (prior to Karikó and Weissman’s work), but use in vitro (Non-cell culture) methods of transcribing mRNA make it difficult to deliver the mRNA and often cause an inflammatory response.
The Nobel Assembly explained: “Karikó and Weissman showed that the delivery of base-modified mRNA significantly increased protein production compared with unmodified mRNA. … By discovering that base modifications both reduce the inflammatory response and By increasing protein production, Karikó and Weissman “remove a critical obstacle on the path to clinical application of mRNA,” allowing an mRNA vaccine encoding the SARS-CoV-2 surface protein to be produced at “record speed.”
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