Two Scientists from the United States who have been responsible for developing mRNA technology that has been used in Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID19 shots have been given an esteemed medical honor, which is often known as ‘America’s Nobel’. The officials from the Lasker Foundation have said that Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Kariko who belong to the University of Pennsylvania are going to share the Lasker clinical medical research award for coming up with the messenger RNA tool. The officials have said that the landmark tool has helped experts in the rapid development of highly efficient COVID19 shots. The effort that has been put together by these two scientists in developing the mRNA technology has been commendable, said the officials. The tool has been instrumental in controlling the destructive pandemic. The officials from the Lasker Foundation have claimed that the tool has been contributing to the development of treatments and preventive drugs for a wide range of diseases as well. The Lasker Foundation has been awarding scientists in the field of medical research since 1945. The mRNA tool has been licensed to both companies that have developed COVID19 shots, BioNTech and Moderna. BioNTech has joined hands with Pfizer to develop its COVID19 shot. Moderna COVID shot has been made in association with the US federal research funding.
The officials from the University of Pennsylvania have said that the global effect and recognition of the work done by Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Kariko has come from years of research at testing the mRNA tool as a potent treatment. Health experts have said that their milestone study that has been released in 2005 has revealed that their theory that has given hope to a field, which has been beset by skepticism and false beginnings might be a new reality. The study has found that the messenger RNA tool can be modified and then effectively administered into the body to induce an immune response. Experts from the Lasker Foundation have said that the technology can turn cells into factories, which are temporarily able to produce proteins that set off the immune system of the body to attack a virus or foreign invader. The tool reduces risky inflammatory responses of the body as well. At times, these proteins secreted by cell factories serve as curative compounds as well, said the experts. Health experts have claimed that the usage of RNA is a safe method to develop shots for a wide range of diseases. They have said that mRNA does not coerce recipients’ genomic integrity of cells, unlike DNA. Experts have said that mRNA cannot combine into chromosomes and disrupt local genes or cause other mutational havoc. With the new mRNA tool, scientists can make vaccines much faster as compared to the old tool. The tool has helped experts from Pfizer and Moderna to initiate the making of vaccines the day the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been sequenced for the first time in January 2020. Dr. Drew Weissman and Dr. Katalin Kariko are going to share a cash prize of $250000. Dr. Katalin Kariko has said that all experiments start with one question and then hundreds of questions come along in the making of technology.
Dr. Jonas Salk, who has been responsible for making the Polio vaccine, Dr. William Foege, who has worked hard to eliminate smallpox, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the chief of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases as well have been given Lasker awards in the past. Dr. William Foege is ex-director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As per the report, many Lasker awardees have won Nobel prizes as well. Dr. David Baltimore who is a scientist at the California Institute of Technology has won a Nobel Prize for his inputs in the discovery of reverse transcriptase that is used by some pathogens to replicate their genetic material. He has also been given a Lasker award in the past. Dr. David Baltimore is one of the world’s top scientists for HIV/AIDS. The Lasker Foundation has honored him with the Lasker-Koshland Award for his special achievement in medical science. He is the founding chief of the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).