Katalin Kariko, inventor of the mRNA vaccine, and Drew Weissman first choice for the Nobel Prize

California, first published Oct 1, 2021, 3:29 p.m. IST

Hungarian-born doctor Katalin Kariko and American Drew Weissman are the first choices for the Nobel Prize in medicine. Even though the epidemic is far from over, the scientists behind the COVID-19 vaccinations may be on the hunt for the Nobel Prize in medicine. Some scientists believe it is only a matter of time: if the effort put into vaccine production is not recognized when this year’s Nobel Prize is announced on Monday, it will receive the honor in subsequent years. . Since the first cases of the new coronavirus were reported in 2019, more than 4.7 million people have died from COVID-19, and many countries remain under severe restrictions aimed at limiting its spread.

However, COVID-19 vaccinations have allowed some wealthy states to return to near-normalcy, while others have yet to receive substantial amounts of vaccine doses. Other scientists consider Hungarian-born Katalin Kariko and American Drew Weissman as possible Nobel Prize winners for their Messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) vaccines. Moderna’s mRNA vaccines and those produced by Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech have revolutionized the fight against the virus. They are both quick to create and extremely effective.

Read also | 37% of patients recovered from COVID-19 reported at least one long-term symptom: Oxford study

Ali Mirazami, professor in the department of laboratory medicine at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, predicted that this approach would win the prize sooner or later, but not when. Traditional vaccinations, which involve putting a weakened or dead virus into the body to activate the immune system, can take a decade or more to produce. In 63 days, Moderna’s mRNA vaccine went from gene sequencing to the first human injection. Messenger RNA (mRNA) carries information from the body’s DNA to its cells, instructing them to produce proteins necessary for vital activities such as coordinating biological processes such as digestion or fighting disease.

The new vaccines use mRNA created in the lab to guide cells to produce advanced coronavirus proteins, which stimulate the immune system without reproducing like the virus. The mRNA method was discovered in 1961, but it took decades for scientists to cure it of instability and produce inflammatory disorders.

Read also | Study Finds 3D Printed Vaccine Patch Offers Better Protection Than Traditional Injections

Kariko, 66, created the basis for mRNA vaccines, and Weissman, 62, has worked with her for many years. Kariko and her colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania made a breakthrough in figuring out how to transfer mRNA without triggering the immune system. Alfred Nobel created the Nobel Prize, which is awarded for contributions in medicine, chemistry, literature, peace and physics. This year’s awards will be announced between October 4 and 11, starting with medicine.

Last updated on October 1, 2021, 3:29 PM IST

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