The Nobel Prize in medicine has been awarded to two scientists for their research which led to the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
Professors Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman will share the prize. The technology was experimental before the pandemic but has now been given to millions of people around the world to protect them against serious Covid-19.
The same mRNA technology is now being researched for other diseases, including cancer.
The Nobel Prize committee said: “The laureates contributed to the unprecedented rate of vaccine development during one of the greatest threats to human health in modern times.”
Vaccines train the immune system to recognise and fight threats such as viruses or bacteria.
Traditional vaccine technology has been based on dead or weakened versions of the original virus or bacterium – or by using fragments of the infectious agent.
Ms Kariko, a professor at Sagan’s University in Hungary and an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania, performed his prize-winning research with Mr Weissman at the University of Pennsylvania.
The pair met in 1998 while waiting for rationed photocopying machine time. The ensuing chat piqued immunologist, Mr Weissman’s interest in Ms Kariko’s RNA work.