mRNA vaccine technology wins 2023 Nobel Prize, highlighting importance of RNA research

On Monday, the 2023 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their contributions to the field of mRNA vaccines – pioneering work that underscores the increasingly popular field of RNA research.

Their work focused on discovery of the nucleoside base modifications that enabled the unprecedented development of effective mRNA vaccines against COVID-19. This prestigious recognition highlights the transformative potential impact of RNA biology, an emerging application area that Oxford Nanopore is uniquely positioned to help advance.

With nanopore sequencing, scientists can analyse native RNA of any fragment length - including full length isoforms - and electronically analyse RNA modifications ‘at the source’.

It has been exciting to see many scientists investigate the biological implications of this feature. For instance, BASE researchers at the University of Queensland are using nanopore sequencing to optimise vaccine performance, and to reduce the time needed to measure mRNA vaccine quality attributes. Oxford Nanopore takes great pride in its unmatched position at the forefront of this rapidly developing industry.

Gordon Sanghera, CEO, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, commented: “Congratulations to Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman for their remarkable achievement in advancing the field of mRNA vaccines. As we look to the future of vaccine development, RNA modification is an area of exciting potential and one the Oxford Nanopore scientific community is increasingly focused on. With the only technology currently available to accurately read native, full-length RNA, Oxford Nanopore is proud to be in a position to support research and development in this fast-moving space, helping unleash new potential for RNA-based therapies and vaccines.”

Libby Snell, Principal Scientist, Sample Technology, Oxford Nanopore Technologies, commented: “It is wonderful to see that the work of Katalin Karikó and Drew Weissman on RNA modifications has been recognised with such a highly deserved honour. We congratulate them for all their contributions leading to this achievement. This is undoubtedly a very exciting time for RNA science, especially within the field of RNA therapeutics and mRNA vaccines. We are excited to continue developing Oxford Nanopore’s unique ability to accurately read modified bases using long-read direct RNA sequencing – and support RNA research and biopharma manufacturing as these burgeoning fields advance.”

Further information:

Oxford Nanopore’s direct RNA sequencing kit (SQK-RNA004) is sensitive to a variety of RNA modifications and stands alone as the sole sequencing platform capable of accurately reading native full-length modified RNAs. More information on this kit can be found here.