Katalin Karikó of Hungary and Drew Weissman of the United States of America(USA) were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2023 by the Royal Swedish Academy of Science.
- The Nobel Prize is awarded for their discovery concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.
- The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded at the Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden.
Winners of Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2023:
|Nobel laureates||Awarded For|
|Katalin Karikó||Discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19|
The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded 114 times to 227 Medicine laureates. this includes 13 women laureates.
Youngest laureate: Frederick Banting, who received the Nobel Prize in 1923 at the age of 32, remains the youngest Nobel laureate for Physiology/Medicine.
Oldest laureate: Peyton Rous, who received the Nobel prize in 1966 at the age of 87, remains the oldest Nobel laureate for Physiology/Medicine.
About Katalin Karikó:
i.Biochemist Katalin Karikó is currently working as a professor at the University of Szeged in Hungary as well as an adjunct professor at the University of Pennsylvania (USA).
- Katalin Karikó served as the Senior Vice President of RNA Protein Replacement Therapies at Biopharmaceutical New Technologies, or BioNTech from 2013 to 2022.
ii.Katalin Karikó is the 13th woman to win the Nobel Prize in medicine or physiology.
About Drew Weissman:
i.Immunologist Drew Weissman is currently working as the professor at the University of Pennsylvania (USA).
ii.Presently,Weissman’s team is working on using RNA to develop a single-injection gene therapy to overcome the defect that causes sickle cell anemia
Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman won the Lasker Award in the clinical category in 2021 from the Lasker Foundation which recognises contributions to the medical sciences.Working of mRNA vaccines:
i.Definition of mRNA: mRNA (messenger ribonucleic acid) is a single stranded RNA involved in protein synthesis and made from a DNA template during the process of transcription.
- mRNA carries codes from the DNA in the nucleus to the sites of protein synthesis in the cytoplasm (the ribosomes).
ii.Working of mRNA vaccines: The mRNA vaccines deliver genetic instructions to cells to recreate the spike protein of the coronavirus, in order to trigger effective antibodies when they encounter the virus.
Obstacles in the way to make mRNA vaccines:
i.The initial obstacle to making the mRNA vaccine was that when they injected into living cells, resulting in a massive inflammatory response found in animal experiments.
ii.In 2005, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman published a paper that investigated the impact of nucleoside modification and its effect on the immune system.
- However there is an obstacle to delivering mRNA vaccines into the living cells.
iii.In 2015, Karikó and Weissman found a new way to deliver the particles safely and effectively to their target cells, using a fatty coating called “lipid nanoparticles.”
- These discoveries paved the way for the development of the Pfizer/ BioNTech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines
About the Noble Prize:
i.The Nobel Prize is an international award given by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden, and based on the will of Alfred Nobel, Swedish inventor and entrepreneur.
- The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901 in the field of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine and Literature in Stockholm, Sweden, and the Peace Prize in Kristiania (now Oslo), Norway.
- The winners of the Nobel Prize were called Nobel Prize laureates.
ii.About Alfred Nobel: Alfred Nobel, the founder of the Nobel Prizes was born on October 21, 1833, in Stockholm, Sweden.
- Alfred Nobel invented “dynamite” in 1866 and also invented a detonator or blasting cap that could be set off by lighting a fuse.
iii. Sveriges Riksbank (Sweden’s central bank) Prize was established in 1968 in Memory of Alfred Nobel for Economic Sciences.
- It also has been awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences following the same principles as for the Nobel Prizes.
i.The Nobel Prizes and the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel were awarded to 989 individuals and organisations 615 times between 1901 and 2022.
- Since 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Nobel laureates during ceremonies on December 10, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel’s death.
ii.Prize Money: Recipients of the Nobel Prize are presented with a Nobel Prize diploma(certificate), a gold medal, and a cash award. The Nobel Prize amount for 2023 is set at Swedish kronor (SEK) 11 million per full Nobel Prize.