BioNTech developers say patients could have a vaccine to treat cancer as early as the next decade.
While scientists have tentative thoughts on using the word “cure,” ongoing cancer vaccines may have significant potential to treat and fight cancer cells.
Professors Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci have discovered a new “breakthrough” in the treatment of cancer cells, which they attribute to their earlier work on a COVID vaccine.
The two have previously collaborated to pioneer cancer immunotherapy for individual patients and co-founded BioNTech in Mainz, Germany in 2008.
The husband-and-wife team that successfully developed Pfizer’s vaccine say their progress in using mRNA technology during the pandemic “gives back to our cancer work.”
While a typical vaccine contains a small fraction of the virus used for immunization, mRNA apparently uses only the virus’ genetic code.
Once injected into the body, it works in a similar way, causing the body to produce antigens and build an immune system to fight disease.
Professor Tureci commented that these scientific developments allow regulators to understand mRNA vaccines and how to deal with them – which will “accelerate” the development of cancer vaccines.
“What we’ve been developing for cancer vaccine development has been a tailwind for developing a COVID-19 vaccine for decades, and now the COVID-19 vaccine and our experience developing it is giving back to our cancer work,” she said.
“We’ve learned how to create better, faster vaccines. We’ve learned in a lot of people how the immune system responds to mRNA.”