A Revolutionary Cancer Vaccine Possible by 2030
BioNTech is developing monoclonal antibodies against a new target expressed particularly in pancreatic and other gastrointestinal malignancies. This target is involved in metastasis development and is a sign of an aggressive type of cancer.
A cancer vaccination that would prevent healthy individuals at a high risk of developing cancer seems like an improbable fantasy. The immune system would eradicate any cells on their way to cancer. It would function in precisely the same manner as vaccinations do when protecting against infectious illnesses.
According to the husband and wife duo that developed one of the most effective COVID vaccinations during the pandemic, vaccines that target cancer might be available by the end of the decade.
Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, who co-founded BioNTech, a German company that teamed with Pfizer to create a groundbreaking mRNA Covid vaccine, said that they had achieved advances that spurred their hope for cancer vaccines in the next years. BioNTech is located in Germany.
Prof. Türeci explained how the mRNA technology that is 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 while speaking on BBC's Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg.
When Professor Sahin was asked when cancer vaccines based on mRNA would be ready for use in patients, he said that they might be accessible "before 2030."
According to what he shared with Kuenssberg, "we feel that this will happen by the year 2030."
Using mRNA technology, it is hoped that a vaccine that is now in the research stage will eventually be available to teach the body to identify and fight cancer.
According to Sahin, "the goal that we have is that we can use the individualized vaccine approach to ensure that immediately after surgery, patients receive a personalized, individualized vaccine, and we induce an immune response that so the T-cells in the body of the patient can screen the body for remaining tumor cells and, ideally, eliminate the tumor cells."
The mRNA vaccination against the Covid virus works by transporting the genetic instructions for the innocuous spike proteins produced by the Covid virus into the body. The cells absorb the instructions, which then produce the spike protein in large quantities. These proteins, also known as antigens, are subsequently put to use as "wanted posters," instructing the immune system's antibodies and other defense mechanisms on what they should look for and attack.
According to Türeci, who serves as the chief medical officer at BioNTech, the same strategy may be used to prepare the immune system to seek out and kill cancer cells. The vaccine does not include the code that recognizes viruses; rather, it carries the genetic instructions for cancer antigens, proteins found on the surfaces of tumor cells.
Türeci said that the invention and subsequent success of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which is comparable to the Moderna Covid injection, "give back to our cancer effort." prior to the outbreak of the pandemic, BioNTech was engaged in research and development on mRNA cancer vaccines; however after the pandemic began, the company shifted its focus to producing Covid vaccines. The company is now conducting clinical tests on many cancer vaccines.
The German company has lofty goals to create medicines for bowel cancer, melanoma, and other forms of cancer, but significant challenges are yet to be overcome. Because the cancer cells that comprise tumors may be studded with a large range of different proteins, it is very challenging to produce a vaccination that targets all cancer cells without affecting any healthy organs.
During the pandemic, Türeci explained to Kuenssberg that BioNTech had gained a greater understanding of how people's immune systems reacted to mRNA and gained the knowledge necessary to create mRNA vaccines more quickly. She said, "This will undoubtedly speed also our efforts to develop a cancer vaccine." medicines regulators also benefited from the intensive development and quick implementation of the Covid injection since it helped them figure out how to approve vaccinations.
There have been a lot of significant advances made, and we will keep working to improve upon them. However, Türeci maintained a cautious attitude toward the work. She said, "as scientists, we are usually cautious about declaring we will have a cure for cancer," and she was right.
In August, Moderna announced that it would bring a patent infringement lawsuit against BioNTech and its partner, the United States pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, over the company's Covid-19 vaccine.
When asked about it, Sahin responded by saying, "Our inventions are unique. We have devoted twenty years of research to develop this kind of therapy, and it goes without saying that we will defend our right to our intellectual property.
According to Tureci, it is yet unknown how physicians will combine the use of the vaccine with other sorts of medical treatments, and it is also unclear what other aspects of the treatment need to be modified to guarantee that patients are healed.
"Every step and patient we treat in these cancer trials help us to learn more about what we are up against and how to handle it," said Tureci.