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The Hungarian Katalin Karikó and the American Drew Weissman are the scientists awarded the 2023 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine, for having laid the foundations for the messenger mRNA vaccines that made the anti-Covid-19 vaccines possible. The announcement was made in Stockholm by Thomas Perlmann, secretary of the Nobel Assembly. Their studies were the basis for a turning point in the fight against a threat to human health unprecedented in recent history and promise extraordinary developments for the treatment of other diseases.
The significant potential of technology
«The approval of two effective and safe mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 at the end of 2020 pushed the field of mRNA vaccines into a new era. The discovery that the use of modified bases in in vitro transcribed mRNA circumvents unwanted inflammatory responses and increases protein production after in vivo delivery demonstrates the value of basic research.” The results published by Karikó and Weissman in their seminal 2005 paper received little attention at the time, but they laid the foundation for critically important developments that have served humanity well during the Covid pandemic, we read in the motivations, in which it is underlined that «the widespread use of the two Covid-19 mRNA vaccines in recent years demonstrates the significant potential of this technology and shows that serious adverse effects of the two authorized mRNA vaccines were exceptionally rare, providing a solid basis for future applications». According to expectations, possible future applications include vaccines against infections and cancer.
Chi is Katalin Karikó
Karikò was born in 1955 in Szolnok, Hungary. He received his PhD from the University of Szeged in 1982 and carried out his postdoctoral studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Szeged until 1985. He subsequently continued his research in the USA, at Temple University in Philadelphia and at Bethesda University of Health Sciences. In 1989 she was appointed assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania, where she remained until 2013. She then became vice president and then senior vice president of the German company BioNTech Rna Pharmaceuticals. Since 2021 she has been a professor at the University of Szeged and an adjunct professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.
The journey of Drew Weissman
Weissman (1959) is originally from Lexington, Massachusetts and received his medical degree and PhD from Boston University in 1987. Clinical training at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center of Harvard Medical School and post-doctoral research -PhD at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In 1997 he founded his research group at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the Roberts Family Professor in Vaccine Research and director of the Penn Institute for RNA Innovations.