Katalin Kariko, hailing from Hungary, and Drew Weissman from the United States, have been honoured by the Nobel Prize organisation with the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their groundbreaking research on nucleoside base modifications, innovations paved the way for the creation of highly efficient mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
The Nobel Prize X, formerly Twitter, account stated that the laureates “discovered that base-modified mRNA can be used to block activation of inflammatory reactions and increase protein production when mRNA is delivered to cells.
“The vaccines have saved millions of lives and prevented severe disease.”
The medicine laureates had published their results in a seminal 2005 paper that received little attention at the time but laid the foundation for critically important developments that have served humanity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Nobel Prize organisation also stated, “Through their groundbreaking findings, this year’s laureates have fundamentally changed our understanding of how mRNA interacts with our immune system.
“They have contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”
An mRNA COVID vaccine carries the genetic blueprint for constructing a single element, a protein, found in the coronavirus. When administered, it prompts our cells to generate a substantial quantity of this viral protein.
As a result, the immune system identifies these proteins as foreign invaders and mounts an attack, gaining valuable knowledge on combating the virus. This provides a strategic advantage in defending against future infections.
Katalin Kariko serves as a professor at Hungary’s Sagan’s University and holds an adjunct professorship at the University of Pennsylvania. Drew Weissman collaborated with Kariko on the award-winning research at the University of Pennsylvania.
They will be honoured with a prize that includes a diploma, a gold medal, and a $1 million check during an official ceremony in Stockholm on December 10th, and King Carl XVI Gustaf will present them with this prestigious recognition.