Ugur Sahin and and Özlem Türeci, the founders of BioNTech and “the husband and wife team behind one of the most successful Covid vaccines,” as the BBC called them, say that vaccines to treat cancer could be here by 2030.
Speaking on BBC’s Sunday, Professor Türeci said that the success of mRNA vaccines in the COVID-19 pandemic encouraged the scientists who were working on them as a possible treatment for cancer.
“mRNA acts as a blueprint and allows you to tell the body to produce the drug or the vaccine… and when you use mRNA as a vaccine, the mRNA is a blueprint for the ‘wanted poster’ of the enemy — in this case cancer antigens which distinguish cancer cells from normal cells,” he explained.
While the couple said that “new technology involving messenger RNA to treat cancer” is being explored and could be here in the next decade, Türeci emphasized that, as scientists, they are “always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer”.
BioNTech was founded in 2008 and, before the Covid pandemic, it was working on mRNA cancer vaccines. The company has several cancer vaccines in clinical trials, including one where patients get a personalized vaccine that forces their immune system to fight cancer cells.
Right now, the hope is that mRna technology could bring us new treatments for some types of cancer including melanoma and bowel cancer.
“The German firm hopes to develop treatments for bowel cancer, melanoma and other cancer types, but substantial hurdles lie ahead. The cancer cells that make up tumours can be studded with a wide variety of different proteins, making it extremely difficult to make a vaccine that targets all of the cancer cells and no healthy tissues,” reports The Guardian.