2022 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science Honors Three Scientists for Developing COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines – QNT Press Release

TAIPEITaiwan , June 18, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — After the 2014 and 2016 winners for the Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Sciences were crowned the Nobel Prize in 2018 and 2020 respectively, this category has continued to garner much attention worldwide. After much waiting, names of the latest winners were finally announced at ten (GMT+8) in the morning of June 19. This year’s award went to three scientists who played a critical role in the development of SARS-CoV-2 mRNA vaccines: Katalin Kariko, Drew Weissmanand Pieter Cullis“for the discovery of key vaccinology concepts and approaches, leading to the successful development of mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the selection committee’s citation.

Since November 2019 when the pandemic began, COVID-19 has been disrupting everyone’s life for more than two years, posing a grave threat to human health and life, and causing severe damage to the global economy. The World Health Organization’s statistics show that up to the moment, more than 530 million COVID infections and about 6.3 million deaths have been recorded around the world. Fortunately, it took Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna less than 12 months to successfully develop vaccines against SARS-CoV-2. As a result, millions of lives have been saved, to which the groundbreaking contributions made by these three laureates cannot be ignored. While Dr. Kariko and Dr. Weissman found a way to reduce the immunogenicityi of mRNA, Dr. Cullis is credited with designing lipid nanoparticles for the delivery of mRNA vaccines.

There are two major challenges when it comes to delivering RNA into the human body. First, RNA triggers innate immune responses. Second, it is easily degradable, and hence difficult to reach the target cells or organs. The new platform developed by these three scientists is a nucleoside-modifiedii mRNA-based vaccine that can evade the immune system, thus preventing the severe inflammation which occurs when in vitro-transcribed mRNA molecules are recognized by immune cells. These mRNA molecules are encapsulated in lipid nanoparticles and delivered effectively into the cells. They then instruct the cell’s machinery to produce harmless pieces of spike …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

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