On February 1, 2021, the Penn Wharton Research Frontier Virtual Series invited Penn Medicine’s Dr. Drew Weissman to discuss his research on COVID-19 vaccines and their use of nucleoside-modified mRNA therapeutics. The virtual event was attended by 120 viewers around the globe with an enthusiastic Q&A discussion. (Watch the full recording above.)
About the Event
The two FDA- and EMA-approved COVID-19 vaccines being used across the world to tame the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic are based on nucleoside-modified mRNA and the nucleoside-modified mRNA-lipid nanoparticle (LNP) vaccine platform. These vaccines have unexpectedly high efficacy, >94.5% for symptomatic disease and 100% for severe disease, and are safe and well-tolerated. The research to develop these vaccines has been ongoing for over 15 years, thus, the rapid development of these 2 vaccines is based on many years of preclinical and clinical research.
Drew Weissman, MD, PhD, a professor of Infectious Diseases at Penn Medicine, discovered a way to turn mRNA vaccine technology from a longshot into a reality.
The Weissman lab is developing modified mRNA-LNP vaccines for many different diseases, including influenza, HIV, genital herpes, ebola, and norovirus. In addition, nucleoside-modified mRNA is being used for a variety of therapeutics, including therapeutic and genetic replacement protein therapies and gene editing. This demonstrates the wide utility of nucleoside-modified mRNA for the treatment of patients.
Derek Rossi, a founder of Moderna, said, “If anyone asks me whom to vote for a Nobel Prize someday down the line, I would put [Weissman and his co-author Katalin Karikó] front and center. That fundamental discovery is going to go into medicines that help the world.”