First Cancer Vaccines could be widely Available before 2030
Vaccines to fight cancer will be widely available before 2030, say husband and wife Prof. Ugur Şahin and Prof. Özlem Tureçi, creators of one of the most successful vaccines against COVID-19, writes in the New York Times.
Lessons learned from the pandemic will accelerate cancer treatments based on mRNA technology, they say.
The couple founded the company BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, in 2008 to work primarily on cancer. When the pandemic began, they changed the focus of their development to create a vaccine against the coronavirus in collaboration with the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer.
Their vaccine uses mRNA that binds to the spike protein of the coronavirus, teaching immune system cells to recognize and fight it.
"What we have been developing for decades to create a cancer vaccine has facilitated the emergence of the COVID vaccine. Now we return to the main goal in our scientific work - the creation of a vaccine against cancer", Prof. Tureçi told the BBC. She emphasizes that it was the experience of the pandemic that gave them more knowledge about how to produce vaccines more quickly and efficiently, as well as observations of the immune system's response to mRNA vaccines in large numbers of people.
According to Prof. Şahin, cancer vaccines will be widely available before 2030. "Scientists tend to be humble," adds Prof. Tureçi, "because nature and biology have so many secrets," but each step in the treatment effort helps them to "understand more about what we're up against and how to deal with it". She admits that scientists are always hesitant to announce that they have a cure for cancer. "We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them", says the scientist.
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