News {that a} Pfizer vaccine is 90% efficient in opposition to COVID-19 has been heralded as a turning level in the world struggle in opposition to the virus.

But whereas the vaccine has been bankrolled by the American pharmaceutical large, the science itself is the work of BioNTech, a German firm based by married couple and devoted physicians Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci.

Together, they’re being hailed as the brains that allowed the probably transformative coronavirus vaccine to return about.

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Ugur Sahin is CEO and co-founder of the German biotech agency
Grab taken from video on BioNTech website - must credit biontech.de
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Dr Ozlem Tureci is the firm’s chief medical officer. Credit biontech.de

Scientists and entrepreneurs professor Sahin, 55, and Dr Tureci, 53, at the moment are amongst the 100 richest Germans, with the worth of their firm BioNTech hovering to $21bn (£16bn) in the wake of the vaccine breakthrough.

But, as youngsters of immigrants, they got here from humbler beginnings.

Chief government officer of BioNTech, Mr Sahin was born in the Turkish metropolis of Iskenderun, transferring to West Germany at four-years-old. His father was a Gastarbeiter, a migrant employee at a Ford manufacturing facility in Cologne.

Dr Tureci, who’s the firm’s chief medical officer, was born in Germany and is the daughter of a Turkish doctor who migrated to the nation from Istanbul.

Mr Sahin educated as a health care provider, learning in Cologne and Hamburg however turned his focus researching immunotherapy. He met Dr Tureci early in his tutorial profession.

Dr Tureci as soon as mentioned in an interview that even on the day of their wedding ceremony, they each made time for lab work.

The pair had a ardour for analysis and oncology which they took ahead into their first firm Ganymed Pharmaceuticals which they arrange in 2001.

The firm got down to analysis the risk of utilizing modified genetic code, or Messenger RNA (mRNA), to trick the physique into combating most cancers and develop cancer-fighting antibodies.

They offered this enterprise in 2016 for $1.4b (£1bn). By then, they have been already busy constructing BioNTech, based in 2008, to pursue a much wider vary of most cancers immunotherapy instruments.

The couple’s work on the potential of mRNA proved to be important in the growth of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Is this the vaccine the world is ready for?

In January, Professor Sahin got here throughout a scientific paper on a brand new coronavirus outbreak in the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan.

It struck him how small the step was from anti-cancer mRNA medicine to mRNA-based viral vaccines.

BioNTech shortly assigned about 500 workers to challenge “light speed” to work on a number of potential compounds, profitable pharma large Pfizer and Chinese drugmaker Fosun as companions in March.

Now trials have proven the vaccine, which makes use of mRNA genetic materials to immediate the physique to provide antibodies, is 90% efficient.

FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of German biotech firm BioNTech is photographed in Mainz
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The headquarters of £16bn firm. File pic

Colleagues describe Professor Sahin as “modest” and understated.

Matthias Theobald, a fellow oncology professor at Mainz University, the place Professor Sahin nonetheless teaches, mentioned: “He is a really modest and humble particular person. Appearances imply little to him.

“But he needs to create the buildings that enable him to understand his visions and that is the place is aspirations are removed from modest.”

Matthias Kromayer, a board member of enterprise capital agency MIG AG, whose funds have backed BioNTech, mentioned: “Despite his achievements, he by no means modified from being extremely humble and personable.”

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