NOBEL PRIZE IN MEDICINE 2023
The 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has gone to scientists Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman, whose work enabled the development of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19.
What are mRNA vaccines, why they were crucial during Covid?
Traditionally, vaccines have depended on introducing dead or weakened viruses into the human body, so it can develop antibodies against them. Thus, when the actual virus infects someone, their body is prepared to fight it. As technology evolved, instead of the whole virus, just a part of the viral genetic code, instead of the whole virus, began to be introduced through vaccines. But the large-scale development of such vaccines requires cell culture (growing of cells under controlled conditions) and takes time.
During the Covid-19 outbreak, time was of the essence in finding a weapon against the deadly and fast-spreading virus. This is where mRNA technology proved crucial.
Basically, instead of putting an inactivated virus in the body to activate an immune response, vaccines using This technology use messenger Ribonucleic Acid, or mRNA, to deliver a message to the immune system. Genetically engineered mRNA can instruct cells to make the protein needed to fight a particular virus. Since RNA is already present in cells, this method does away with the need for cell culture.