mRNA Covid-19 vaccine

Scientists behind mRNA Covid-19 vaccine awarded Nobel Prize

The scientists who made the breakthroughs which paved the way for the development of the mRNA Covid-19 vaccines have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.

Dr Katalin Kariko and Dr Drew Weissman have been recognised for their work investigating the therapeutic qualities of mRNA – some 15 years before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pair, who met in the late 1990s at the University of Pennsylvania, showed that nucleoside base-modified mRNA could be used to block the activation of inflammatory reactions and increase protein production.

This, in turn, removed the some of the biggest barriers to mRNA being used clinically, and thus laid the foundations for the eventual development of the UK’s first approved Covid-19 vaccine.

The award comes almost three years after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s jab.

MHRA’s chief executive, Dr June Raine, said: “The COVID-19 pandemic affected each and every one of us, but through scientific and regulatory innovation and collaboration, we brought effective and very safe vaccines to the UK and came through it together.”

She continued: “Today, the world congratulates Dr Katalin Kariko and Dr Drew Weissman, who have deservedly received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, for the development of the technology behind the vaccines that continue to keep millions of people safe around the world.

“We’ve all learned what’s possible when we apply the collective strength of the brilliant life sciences sector, and agile, enabling regulation, to our common goal of providing the best benefit risk balance and health outcomes for patients and the public.”

Image credit: iStock

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NHE May/June 2024

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