The Nobel Prize in Medicine for 2023 has been declared

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the year 2023 has been bestowed upon Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman. They are recognized for their groundbreaking discoveries related to nucleoside base modifications that paved the way for the development of highly effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.

Katalin Karikó, a Hungarian-American biochemist, and Drew Weissman, an American physician, jointly received this prestigious award.

Their groundbreaking research played a pivotal role in the creation of mRNA vaccines that have proven to be extraordinarily effective in combating the COVID-19 pandemic, which emerged in early 2020. Their findings revolutionized our understanding of how mRNA interacts with the immune system. Their contributions led to the rapid development of vaccines during one of the most significant health crises of modern times.

The 2023 #NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19.

— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 2, 2023

Before the pandemic, vaccines primarily relied on stimulating the immune response to a particular pathogen, offering protection against disease upon subsequent exposure. These vaccines were often based on weakened or killed viruses. For instance, Max Theiler received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1951 for developing the yellow fever vaccine.

However, recent advancements in molecular biology have enabled the creation of vaccines centered on individual viral components, rather than whole viruses. These vaccines use genetic code segments that encode proteins found on the virus’s surface to trigger the production of antibodies that block the virus. Notable examples include vaccines against hepatitis B and human papillomavirus.

Alternatively, portions of the viral genetic code can be transferred to a harmless carrier virus, known as a “vector.” This approach is utilized in vaccines against the Ebola virus. When administered, vector vaccines prompt our cells to produce the selected viral protein, eliciting an immune response against the targeted virus.

The production of whole virus-based, protein-based, and vector-based vaccines typically requires large-scale cell culture, making rapid vaccine production in response to outbreaks and pandemics challenging. Consequently, researchers have long sought more efficient methods to develop vaccines in such critical situations.

Someone is receiving exciting news from Thomas Perlmann, the secretary of the medicine committee. Find out who will receive this year’s #NobelPrize in Physiology or Medicine – we’re just moments away from breaking the news.

Photo: Yanan Li.

— The Nobel Prize (@NobelPrize) October 2, 2023

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