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Anders Wittrup about this year's Nobel prize

Portrait of Anders Wittrup. Photo
Photographer: Tove Smeds

For Anders Wittrup, clinical WCMM researcher and oncologist, the choice of this year's Nobel laureate in Physiology and Medicine, Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman, was quite expected. They recieved the prize for their discoveries concerning nucleoside base modifications that enabled the development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 such as the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Anders Wittrup hosted the program Vetenskapsradion at Sveriges radio to discuss the research behind the prize.

The findings by the Nobel Prize winners played a crucial role in the development of highly efficient mRNA vaccines against COVID-19 at the onset of the 2020 pandemic. Their pioneering discoveries have reshaped our comprehension of how mRNA can be used to engage with our immune system, and their contributions were instrumental in accelerating the rapid development of vaccines during one of the most significant health crises in recent history. 

Anders Wittrup hosted Vetenskapsradion to discuss the research behind the 2023 Nobel prize in Physiology & Medicine. Together with Elin Esbjörner, ass. prof at the Dept. of Life Sciences at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, and Mia-Marie Hammarlin, lecturer and researcher at the Dept. of Communication and Media in Lund, they discussed mRNA vaccines in general and what reactions and opinions ordinary people have about these types of vaccins. 

In Sweden, only 4 percent of the population has chosen to abstain from COVID-19 vaccination, according to the SOM Institute. The vast majority have opted for vaccination, and research indicates that millions of lives have been saved thanks to these vaccines. This topic and other topics such as the extensive research, which is ongoing into the potential use of mRNA in various treatments in the future were point of discussion. Important points mentioned, however, were the challenges which exist in adapting mRNA for applications beyond vaccines. Improving the efficiency of the delivery using lipid particles is crucial for better functionality. Clinical trials are also underway for the treatment of various types of cancer using this technology.

If you want to listen to the radio program at Sveriges radio