Compelling Conversations — Developing a Drug: From Research & Development to Clinical Trials and Beyond

Thursday, February 25, 2021
UCI Physical Sciences Communications

Humanity now has a vaccine for coronavirus. For many, this seems matter of fact — “of course there’s a vaccine.” It’s as matter of fact as picking up the telephone and ordering pizza. You’re hungry, you call for pizza. There’s a pandemic, you ask for a vaccine. But, as with anything, there’s always more to the story, and vaccines are no different. The time it took to make a coronavirus vaccine was the fastest vaccine development in human history — and, as Professor Vy Dong of the UCI Department of Chemistry highlights in this Compelling Conversation, that journey to the vaccine we now have began long before coronavirus ever reared its head. “From our perspective it might look like, ‘well how did this thing happen so fast?’” She posed. “But it was actually 30 years ago that a biochemist named Katalin Karikó at the University of Pennsylvania. She proposed an idea that maybe you could use messenger RNA as a therapy, and this proposal was so new at the time, and so fundamental, that, in fact, the funding agencies reject the proposal, and it never really got funded.” So, as always, grab some tea, grab a chair, and sit in on the chat.