"Two scientists have been awarded the 2023 Nobel prize in physiology or
medicine for their contributions to RNA biology that contributed to the
unprecedented rate of vaccine development during the Covid pandemic.
Prof Katalin Karikó and Prof Drew Weissman share the 11m Swedish kronor
(£823,000) prize announced on Monday by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska
Institute in Stockholm.
The Nobel committee awarded the prize for their discoveries concerning
“nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA
vaccines against Covid-19”.
These vaccines work by smuggling the genetic instructions for making viral
proteins into our cells, enabling them to churn out large amounts of this
protein and prime the immune cells to fight the virus.
A significant obstacle in the development of such vaccines was early prototypes
of these synthetic mRNAs provoked inflammatory reactions, making them
unsuitable for medical use.
Together, Karikó and Weissman discovered that by making small chemical tweaks
to the mRNA molecules, they could not only abolish these unwanted inflammatory
responses, but also markedly increased production of the target protein. This
approach became the basis for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics