Thanks to her contribution to developing mRNA-based vaccines, Hungarian biochemist Katalin Karikó has been declared one of TIME Magazine’s heroes of the year.
Karikó can be seen with her colleague Drew Weissman, as well as Kizzmekia Corbett and Barney Graham. All four scientists are credited with achieving a huge breakthrough that would lead to one of humanity’s greatest defenses against the coronavirus.
Corbett, Graham, Kariko and Weissman achieved a breakthrough of singular importance, introducing an innovative and highly effective vaccine platform, based on mRNA, that will impact our health and well-being far beyond this pandemic.”
The magazine gives a detailed explanation of Karikó’s path to success in creating mRNA-based vaccines with Weissman, saying that the two colleagues “created the perfect vehicle for targeting any virus or pathogen.”
Barney Graham and Kizzmekia Corbett followed up Karikó and Weissman by designing an mRNA-based vaccine specifically for SARS-CoV-2. After Chinese scientists discovered and published the sequence of Covid in January 2020, Graham and Corbett got to work, creating the basis for the vaccines of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson-Janssen, Sanofi, and Novavax.
University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research director Paul Duprex described the foundations created by the four scientists as “a renaissance in vaccinology.”
Corbett is confident that the technology will help fight similar viruses, saying that “we can apply the knowledge from one virus and vaccine to another in a plug-and-play way.”
Featured photo illustration by Tibor Rosta/MTI