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Canadian scientists helped save lives during COVID-19 pandemic

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This year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be awarded on October 3rd. The involvement of Canadian scientists in the development of an mRNA vaccine puts Canada back in the spotlight.

Canada The Gardner International Prize is awarded to five researchers who have excelled in medicine and are often considered Nobel Prize prognosticators.

Earlier this year, the Gardner Foundation honored molecular biologist Peter Callis, biochemist Catalin Carrico, and physician and researcher Drew Weisman. Cullis was recognized for lipid nanoparticle packaging of mRNA designed by Karikó and Weissman for a COVID-19 vaccine.

2022 Canadian Gardner International Awards.

mRNA vaccine development

Canada’s involvement in the development of functional mRNA vaccines also includes mRNA research pioneer Nahum Sonenberg, who was consulted in the development of Moderna’s mRNA vaccine. Sonenberg won the Gardner International Prize in 2008 for discovering how to build mRNAs with caps and tails that enable protein synthesis.

Moderna itself was co-founded by Derrick Rossi, who attended the University of Toronto, and Nuvar Afeyan, who attended McGill University.

adenovirus vaccine

In 2021, in addition to the approval of mRNA vaccines from BioNTech and Moderna, Canada will also approve the Oxford vaccine. The vaccine uses an adenovirus to insert the gene for the spike protein of her COVID-19 virus to stimulate an immune response that protects against COVID-19.

Molecular biologist Frank Graham pioneered the use of adenoviruses to generate vaccines.

Studies estimate that vaccines will save 19.8 million lives by 2021, with more than 310,000 lives saved in Canada alone.

underestimate the importance of research

Unfortunately, the recognition of outstanding scientists by the Nobel Prize Committee is not a value shared by the federal government today. In 2017, Kirsty Duncan, then Minister of Science, called for increased funding for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). emphasized. Reverse the decline of Canadian research.

In 2017, CIHR funding was only 2.5% of its US counterpart at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). By 2022, CIHR funding will be proportionately less, to his 2.3% of NIH funding.

The United States invests five times as much in health research as Canada does and recognizes the importance of research. With each federal budget release, Canadian scientists are eager to see the budget raised to internationally competitive levels.

Discrepancies between Canada and the rest of the G7 and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) means that future scientists will look elsewhere for promising and barrier-free careers.

Losing a scientist affects the health and economy of Canadians.

science literacy

During the pandemic, Canadians have been following updates and news about public health messages impacting their daily lives. We have observed and scrutinized how scientific research is conducted and communicated.

The pandemic seems to have fueled a hunger and curiosity for science. The more information people give themselves, the more they are protected from misinformation that could harm themselves and their loved ones.

The need to promote the relevance of science to decision makers across Canada, especially federal and provincial decision makers, has never been greater.

Read more: Why can’t Canada win another Nobel Prize in Medicine?

The COVID-19 pandemic has opened our eyes to the fact that Canada is ill-prepared. From the initial sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA to the first vaccination, the rapid response from scientists has shown why scientific research is important for everyone. With multiple health threats, investing in research should no longer be seen as a luxury.

global competition

As problems with seemingly uncontrollable inflation and a hard-hit economy take hold, current and future Canadian scientists will be severely impacted by the lack of funding to support their laboratories. Canada cannot compete scientifically unless it increases its investment in This plight is a threat to Canada’s health and economy.

Canada needs to retain, recruit and support talent to meet the challenges of the future. These will arise from several sources: future pandemics, increased antibiotic resistance to bacterial infections, increased impact of cancer, age-related diseases, and of course diabetes. The prize for medicine was awarded for the discovery of insulin.

Research saves lives.

John Bergeron thanks Kathleen Dickson as a co-author.