The whole world is looking hopefully at the new vaccines that seem to be paving the way out of the Corona crisis. They were developed at lightning speed and are now being mass produced. What hardly anyone knows is that we have one woman in particular to thank for this positive turnaround.
Katalin Karikó, born in 1955 in a small village in Hungary, is a biochemist who paved the way for the development of mRNA-based vaccines. The scientist was already working on the synthesis of RNA, a sister molecule of the genetic substance DNA, at the University of Szeged before her contract was allowed to expire.
Without further ado, she emigrated to the USA with her husband and child.
After a decade of research full of setbacks, she made a breakthrough: she found a way to channel mRNA molecules past the body's immune system without the natural immune system sounding the alarm. These synthetic mRNA molecules can be used to stimulate the production of specific proteins in the cell and thus strengthen resistance to certain pathogens.
Four decades of perseverance and enthusiasm thus created unimagined new therapeutic perspectives for a multitude of diseases.
Both Derrick Rossi, founder of Moderna, and the founders of BioNTech took their technology and developed it further.
Prof. Dr. Katalin Karikó is currently Senior Vice President of BioNTech AG, teaches neurosurgery at the University of Pennsylvania and is considered a promising candidate for the Nobel Prize.
Introduction: Prof. Matthias W. Hentze, Director of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany
In the context of the International Science Festival - Geist Heidelberg.
The woman behind the new vaccine
Geist Heidelberg Lecture
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