Copenhagen, Oct 2 (EFE).- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for 2023 has been awarded to Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman for their work that led to the development of mRNA Covid-19 vaccines, the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm said Monday.
The discoveries by Hungarian-American Kariko and American Weissman “were critical for developing effective mRNA vaccines against Covid-19 during the pandemic that began in early 2020,” the Swedish institute said in a press release announcing the award.Their findings paved the way for the vaccines against Covid-19 which “have saved millions of lives and prevented severe disease in many more, allowing societies to open and return to normal conditions,” the statement said.
The laureates’ “groundbreaking findings” helped contribute to an “unprecedented rate of vaccine development” in the midst of “one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times,” the institute said.
During the pandemic, the widely used vaccines developed by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech were based on mRNA technology.
Kariko and Weissman first published their “seminal” results in 2005, 15 years before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, in a paper that received little attention at the time but which laid the groundwork for further advances in vaccine development.
Vaccines using mRNA technology against the Zika virus and MERS-CoV, which is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, were also pursued.
“The impressive flexibility and speed with which mRNA vaccines can be developed pavethe way for using the new platform also for vaccines against other infectious diseases. Inthe future, the technology may also be used to deliver therapeutic proteins and treat somecancer types,” the Nobel institute said. EFEber-alc/ks