Penn Medicine’s Dr. Weissman Weighs In on COVID Vaccine Therapy

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.”

Visit the event page and recap for more information.