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Three winners of 2022 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science credited with development of mRNA COVID vaccines

Techniques said to be applicable for treating variety of diseases, including cancer, HIV, and allergic diseases

(Tang Prize Foundation photo)

(Tang Prize Foundation photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Tang Prize Foundation named three renowned scientists, Katalin Kariko, Drew Weissman, and Pieter Cullis, as winners of the 2022 Tang Prize in Biopharmaceutical Science at a press conference on Sunday (June 19).

The Tang Prize is an international academic award set up to recognize those who contribute to a better world for all of humanity.

This year’s Biopharmaceutical Science award went to the three scientists “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.

While Dr. Kariko and Dr. Weissman are credited with finding a way to reduce the immunogenicity of mRNA, Dr. Cullis designed lipid nanoparticles for the delivery of mRNA vaccines. As a result, millions of lives have been saved, a press release on the foundation's website said.

“These techniques not only revolutionized vaccinology but also signaled a paradigm shift in protein therapy. They represent the advent of a new era of RNA-based therapies,” the release said. “Unlike traditional methods that take a long time and a lot of money to develop vaccines, these new mRNA techniques turn cells into factories where proteins that serve as antigens or therapeutic molecules can be produced.”

These techniques can be applied to finding treatments for a variety of diseases, such as the development of “vaccines against other viruses, of tailored-made vaccines against cancer, of vaccines against HIV, or even of vaccines against allergic diseases," according to the release.

(YouTube, Tang Prize Foundation video)