The scientists behind the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 jab say a cancer vaccine could be ready by the end of the decade, possibly 2030.
According to the Independent, the co-founders of BioNTech, Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci who has partnered with Pfizer to manufacture the covid vaccine, are optimistic about the recent ‘breakthroughs’ they will keep working on for melanomas, colon cancer, and other cancers.
Although the two were initially reluctant to share this news, Prof. Türeci explained that the research behind Covid-19 vaccines could potentially lead to finding a cure for the disease.
As Tureci explained on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg:
“What we have developed over decades for cancer vaccine development has been the tailwind for developing the Covid-19 vaccine, and now the Covid-19 vaccine and our experience in developing it gives back to our cancer work.
“We have learned how to better, faster manufacture vaccines. We have learned in a large number of people how the immune system reacts towards mRNA.”
This new vaccine would be made possible by the Covid-19 vaccine’s mRNA technology, which may be repurposed to enhance the body’s immune system and attack cancerous cells at the same time. Covid’s mRNA vaccine recreates antigens, which the body’s immune system uses to detect and attack diseases.
As he explained, cancer cells would be destroyed using a similar approach.
Professor Türeci said:
“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.”
Upon being asked by Kuenssberg when the vaccines would be ready, Sahin advised that it would be before 2030.
The rapid development of the Covid-19 vaccine during the pandemic helped them figure out how to rapidly roll out treatments, she added.
As she put it: “This will definitely accelerate also our cancer vaccine.”
According to BBC News, the two professors are currently conducting a number of clinical trials to determine how the cancer vaccine responds to patients.
In response to a question about whether the vaccine would fall through, Tureci said no.
He said: “Everything we have learned about the immune system and about what we achieve with a cancer vaccine shows, in principle, the clear activity — we can induce those killer T-cells, we can direct them.”
“As scientists, we are always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer. We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them.”