François Gross and François Jacob, discoverers of messenger RNA

François Gross and François Jacob, discoverers of messenger RNA


The news came two days before that Francois Gros, a prominent figure in French science, died in Paris at the age of 96, mRNA one of his explorers.

The news is interesting because Katalin Karikó has practically devoted her entire life to mRNA research. The use of mRNA has become the basis for revolutionary new technology and the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus.

Hope, along with Drew Wiseman of the US University of Pennsylvania, developed a method that allowed Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna to rapidly develop vaccines against the coronavirus.

But who discovered messenger RNA, abbreviated in English as mRNA from “messenger RiboNucleic Acid”? in Hungarian RNA messengerThis is because a compound called mRNA is capable of transmitting genetic information, and in the case of mRNA-based vaccines, the transmitter is actually injected and the cells “know” how to defend themselves. Of course, this is actually more complicated, but this writing was not written as a scientific article, and much more about the discoverers of mRNA.

In 1961, two French scientists first identified mRNA at the Pasteur Institute in Paris. It has previously been suspected that there is a mechanism capable of interpreting and transmitting genetic information, as has an RNA that acts as a transmitter. But determining the mechanism was not an easy task. After returning from a study trip to the United States, François Gross and François Jacob determined the mechanism almost independently. An article published jointly in Nature in 1961 was the discovery of mRNA.

Francois Jacob

As Catalin Cariko said several times, the main direction of scientific research at that time did not trust the usability of mRNA technology and turned the research in another direction. Jacob also conducted research in other directions, and in 1965, together with two French colleagues, Jacques Monod and André Loew, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his discovery of the genetic regulation of cellular enzyme production.

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The history of mRNA discovery, the French scientists involved in it and their 60-year-old article in Nature, surfaced again with the advent of the coronavirus.

Both explorers are of Jewish descent and Holocaust survivors. Jacob was 20 years old when the Germans invaded Paris. He fled to London where he became a soldier for the French Resistance, specifically General de Gaulle. He also participated in armed conflicts in Africa and was wounded several times. He died in 2013 and his book was published in Hungarian.

Gross, who died recently, was only 15 years old when the Nazis marched into Paris. For years, he hid with fake papers using various aliases.

Gross also wrote in his memoirs that the discovery of mRNA was in fact due to chance. In 1960, Jacob was interviewed in the lobby of the Pasteur Institute about his upcoming US study tour when it came to researching the topic of mRNA. On their return, they compared the results of their research and realized the discovery. All this is now a chapter in the history of biological research.

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