The scientists who developed the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 have addressed the possibility of a cancer vaccine by the end of the decade. It too could rely on messenger RNA technology.
Soon a vaccine to treat cancer patients? The couple of scientists behind the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19 raised the possibility that such a serum could be developed “before 2030”, in an interview for the BBC.
BioNTech bosses Ugur Sahin and Özlem Türeci explain that their work on messenger RNA (mRNA), which made it possible to develop their vaccine in the context of the pandemic, gave them leads to continue research against the cancer.
“We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them,” the couple said.
Functioning similar to the anti-Covid vaccine
Their company, launched in 2008, aims to work specifically on mRNA to develop scientific knowledge in this area and develop concrete medical applications. The action of this technology on different forms of cancer has been one of their specialties since the creation of the company.
“What we have developed for decades for the development of cancer vaccines has been the driving force behind the development of the Covid-19 vaccine, and now the Covid-19 vaccine and the experience that we have gained during of its development are helpful to our work on cancer”, explains Özlem Türeci.
As with the Covid vaccine, the mRNA cancer vaccine project would work by sending a genetic instruction code to a cell to produce an antigen or protein. While for the virus responsible for Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, it is the Spike protein of the virus that was targeted, it would be the tumor cells that would be targeted as part of a cancer vaccine. .
“In Our Strings”
“We believe that a treatment against cancer, or at least to change the lives of cancer patients, is within our reach”, also specified the couple, who explain that they do not limit their action to research for the development of point of a vaccine after the success of that against Covid-19.
The bosses of BioNTech, however, prefer to beware of any hasty assertions, preferring to advance the uncertainty associated with the development of a still young mRNA technology on the scale of vaccine research.
“You know, scientists tend to show humility because nature and biology have so many secrets and you only realize that when you enter this unknown territory that we have been exploring for three decades now”, underlines Ozlem Tureci.