Cancer Vaccine Coming!
When the coronavirus pandemic affected the whole world, the development of coronavirus vaccines began rapidly. One of these vaccines was the Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci were behind this vaccine with mRNA technology, which was injected into millions of people around the world and perhaps saved millions of lives. Many people in many countries expressed their gratitude to Şahin and Türeci. Nowadays, when the effect of the pandemic has decreased, important statements regarding the cancer vaccine came from the founders of BioNTech.
Vaccines targeting cancer could begin production before a decade, according to the team behind one of the pandemic’s most successful Covid vaccines. Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, co-founders of the German company BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer to produce a revolutionary mRNA Covid vaccine, said that they have made breakthroughs that fuel their optimism about cancer vaccines in the coming years.
Speaking with Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC yesterday, Prof Türeci talked about how BioNTech’s mRNA technology at the heart of the Kovid vaccine can be reused to attack cancer cells instead of invading the immune system with coronaviruses.
THEY GIVE DATE
Asked when cancer vaccines based on mRNA technology might be ready for use in patients, Prof. Şahin said that these could be ready “before 2030”.
An mRNA Covid vaccine works by transferring genetic instructions to the body for harmless spike proteins on the coronavirus. Instructions are received by cells that produce spike protein. These proteins or antigens are then used as “wanted postings”. That is, they tell the immune system’s antibodies and other defenses what to look for and what to attack.
Türeci said that the same approach can be applied to prepare the immune system to seek and destroy cancer cells. Instead of carrying code that identifies viruses, the vaccine contains genetic instructions for cancer antigens, i.e. proteins that pierce the surfaces of tumor cells, and fights cancer in this way.
BioNTech was working on mRNA cancer vaccines before the pandemic started, but the company decided to produce Covid vaccines in the face of the global emergency. The firm currently has several cancer vaccines in clinical trials.
BOTTOM CANCER, MELANOM, AND OTHER TYPES OF CANCER ARE TARGET
The German firm hopes to develop treatments for bowel cancer, melanoma and other types of cancer, but there are significant hurdles. Cancer cells that make up tumors can be coated with a wide variety of different proteins, making it extremely difficult to make a vaccine that targets all cancer cells and not healthy tissue.
“THIS WILL DEFINITELY ACCELERATE OUR CANCER VACCINE”
Türeci told Kuenssberg that BioNTech has learned to produce mRNA vaccines faster during the pandemic and has a better understanding of how people’s immune systems respond to mRNA. The intensive development and rapid rollout of the COVID vaccine has also helped drug regulators work on how to approve vaccines. Türeci added, “This will definitely accelerate our cancer vaccine.”
However, Türeci, who is extremely cautious about this subject, said, “As scientists, we are always hesitant to say that we will find a cure for cancer. We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them.”
Although the words of two valuable scientists are exciting, there may be years ahead to see if BioNTech’s studies work in cancer and tumors.