Scientists Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman were on Monday awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for research that enabled the development of Covid-19 vaccines.
The two scientists invented the modified mRNA technique that formed the basis of the coronavirus vaccines later developed by the likes Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna.
Compared the conventional vector-based vaccines, mRNA Covid-19 vaccines have much higher efficacy rates and have been used in much of the developed world.
Karikó and Weissman first invented the technique to modify mRNA and later developed a delivery technique to package the mRNA in lipid nanoparticles, which made it possible for mRNA to reach the proper part of the body and trigger an immune response to fight disease, according to University of Pennsylvania's where the two conducted their research.
These laboratory breakthroughs made mRNA safe, effective, and practical for use as a vaccine against Covid-19, says the university website further.
Weissman continues to be a practising physician at the University of Pennsylvania and continues to carry out research on vaccines for coronaviruses and herpes and develop therapeutics for other conditions.
"Dr. Weissman and his team are currently at work on a pan-coronavirus vaccine to stop the next coronavirus epidemic, a universal flu vaccine, and a vaccine to prevent herpes. They are working with Penn colleagues to develop cancer therapeutics with mRNA technology," says the University of Pennsylvania.
Kariko is a Senior Vice President at BioNTech, which was among the first to develop a major Covid-19 vaccine along with pharmaceutical major Pfizer. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania.
The Nobel Prizes are considered the highest degree of recognition in the selected fields. Besides Medicine, the awards are awarded in the following categories: Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace Prize, and Economy.
The Nobel Prizes are awarded in memory of Swedish inventor Alfred Nobel. The Nobel Foundation, which manages Nobel's fortunes, is responsible for the awards.