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The value of basic research: Covid-19 vaccines stem from an MIT scientist's curiosity in the 1970s

A scientist's curiosity about an odd RNA discovery at MIT in the 1970s led to him winning a Nobel Prize and laid the foundation for the work that led to today's Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for Covid-19. MIT News interviews Phillip Sharp about what happened after he read a report that one virus's RNA was longer inside the nucleus of a cell it had invaded than it was in the rest of the cell and he wondered why.

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This is a wonderful story that underscores why basic science is crucial to innovation! I love that Professor Sharp makes an effort to make his collaborators and fellow investigators, giving particular credit to two women (a post-doc and a lab technician) whose work is so often overlooked!

Voting closed 13

Great and relevant piece..as always, the hub was a part of it.

The quote that gives me pause, however, is the following:
"The effective delivery of vaccines into the body based on our fundamental understanding of mRNA took decades more work and ingenuity to figure out how to evade other cellular mechanisms perfected over hundreds of millions of years of evolution to destroy foreign genetic material"

This is where science loves to get ahead of itself. You just said it took evolution hundreds of millions of years to perfect its immune system, and yet science thinks it can outsmart it in decades. Perhaps the immediate illusion of success exists in that evasion, but have you no concern for evolution's next move? We kniw every action has a reaction. Science loves to declare premature success that so often ends up not being the case. Science must evolve just as our immune systems have, before we realize that this stew of adjuvants and immune triggers has irreparably damaged hundreds if millions of years of hard work.

Voting closed 7