Vaccines to treat cancer possible by 2030, say BioNTech founders

According to Uur Ahin and Zlem Türeci, the mRNA Covid vaccination technology may be used to help eradicate cancer cells.

According to the husband and wife duo behind one of the most popular Covid vaccinations of the pandemic, cancer-specific vaccines may be accessible by the end of the decade.

The German company BioNTech, established by Uur Ahin and Zlem Türeci, collaborated with Pfizer to produce the ground-breaking mRNA Covid vaccine. They claimed to have achieved advancements that have increased their hope for the development of cancer vaccines in the next years.

Prof. Türeci explained how the mRNA technology at the core of BioNTech's Covid vaccine might be repurposed such that it primed the immune system to fight cancer cells instead of invading coronaviruses in an interview with the BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.

When asked if cancer vaccines based on mRNA may be accessible "before 2030," Prof. Sahin said that they might be.

The genetic code for the Covid virus's largely innocuous spike proteins is transported into the body by an mRNA Covid vaccination. Cells take up the instructions and produce the spike protein. The immune system's antibodies and other defenses are subsequently given instructions by these proteins, known as antigens, on what to look for and fight.

According to Türeci, chief medical officer of BioNTech, the immune system may be stimulated in the same way to look for and eliminate cancer cells. The vaccine contains genetic instructions for cancer antigens, which are proteins that cover the surfaces of tumor cells, rather than information that detects viruses.

Prior to the pandemic, BioNTech was developing mRNA cancer vaccines; however, in response to the global emergency, the company switched to producing Covid vaccinations. The business is currently testing a number of cancer vaccinations. The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is comparable to the Moderna Covid injection, was developed and is successful, according to Türeci, and "gives back to our cancer effort."

There are significant obstacles in the way of the German company's efforts to create therapies for melanoma, bowel cancer, and other cancer types. Making a vaccination that targets only the cancer cells and leaves healthy tissues unaffected is particularly challenging since the cancer cells that make up tumours can be laced with a wide range of various proteins.

In addition to learning how to produce mRNA vaccines more quickly during the pandemic, Türeci informed Kuenssberg, BioNTech also gained a better understanding of how people's immune systems reacted to mRNA. The Covid shot's intensive research and quick deployment had also aided medical regulators in figuring out how to authorize the vaccinations. This will undoubtedly speed up the development of our cancer vaccine, she continued.

Türeci, however, remained wary about the project. As scientists, we're always cautious to predict that cancer will be cured, she added. "We've made a lot of progress, and we'll keep working on it,"

Moderna said in August that it was suing BioNTech and its business partner, US pharmaceutical behemoth Pfizer, for violating the company's Covid-19 vaccine patent.

When questioned about it, Sahin responded, "Our innovations are unique. We developed this form of medicine after 20 years of research, and we will fight to protect our intellectual property.

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