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Nobel Prize 2023 in Physiology/Medicine Announced


Image Source- Down To Earth

  • The Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine has been awarded to Katalin Kariko and Drew Weissman for their discoveries concerning 'nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19'.

About the Findings:-

  • The discoveries and findings by Kariko and Weissman fundamentally changed the  understanding of how mRNA vaccines interact with the human immune system.
  • The research on mRNA started in 1970s and the scientists were able to produce mRNA without cell culture in the 1980s, in a process known as in-vitro transcription.
  • This also helped in researching on how to use mRNA for vaccine and therapeutic purposes.
  • In 1990s, Kariko along with Weissman started working on how different types of RNA interact with the immune system.
  • They found that there are some critical properties that distinguish the different types of mRNA, during in-vitro the mRNA was recognized as foreign substance.
  • In 2005, 15 years before COVID-19 pandemic, they both found different variants of mRNA had unique chemical alterations in their bases.

  • They also found that inflammatory response was almost abolished when base modifications were included in the mRNA.
  • Later also, they found the mRNA generated with base modifications markedly increased protein production.

  • Thus, the findings by the two led to the approval of two highly successful mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines in 2020.
  • The two base-modified mRNA vaccines encoding the SARS-CoV-2 surface protein were developed at record speed.

About Nobel Prize:-

  • The Nobel Prizes are the most prestigious awards being awarded to men, women and organizations for work that has led to great advances for mankind.

  • It was created by a wealthy Swedish inventor, Alfred Nobel, who in his will dictated that his estate should be used to fund prizes to those who have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.
  • The first awards was given in 1901, five years after his death in 1896.

  • It is given in the field of medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and peace.
  • Each prize is worth 11 million Swedish crowns (nearly $986,000 or Rs. 8.1 crore).
  • This year the award will be announced throughout the week, being scheduled as:
    • Physics - October 3;
    • Chemistry - October 4;
    • Literature - October 5;
    • Peace - October 6; and
    • Economics - October 9

  • The economics award was not created by Nobel, but by Sweden's Central Bank in 1968.
  • Thousands of people around the world eligible for the award, submit their nominations, they include university professors, lawmakers, previous Nobel laureates & committee members.
  • The  Nobel created the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences to award the prizes for chemistry and physics, the Swedish Academy for literature, Sweden's Karolinska Institute medical university for medicine or physiology, and the Norwegian parliament for peace.
Source - Down To Earth

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