The Story of mRNA
By Susan Schilke; March 1, 2020
“DNA makes RNA makes protein makes life.”
Our bodies rely on millions of tiny proteins to stay healthy and alive. Messenger RNA tells cells which proteins to make. What if you could design mRNA to create any protein you might desire – antibodies to fight infection, enzymes to reverse disease or growth agents to mend damaged heart tissue? This was the quest of two very different scientists from opposite ends of the world. The two were an unlikely tag team and their combined efforts are a big part of why we have approved vaccines for COVID-19 in record time. Their complimentary strengths were critical, even though they never worked together.
One was a Hungarian biochemist who spent 40 years chasing an answer when others gave up, and the other was a Harvard scientist and serial entrepreneur who got the green light, literally, that led to today’s modern medical miracle. We can thank Katalin Karikó and Derrick Rossi for the shot at a return to normal in 2021. The two couldn’t be more different, and it was hardly a straight path to success.