The founder of BioNTech, a German biotechnology company, said in an interview with the BBC that a vaccine against cancer might be available before 2030.
Biontech is the largest biotechnology unicorn in Europe. It has cooperated with Pfizer of the United States to develop and produce mRNA COVID-19 vaccine. It is reported that the couple Uur ahin and zlem Türeci, the co founders of the company, said in an interview with the BBC that the research had made a breakthrough, which made them optimistic about the launch of cancer vaccine in the next few years. When asked when mRNA based cancer vaccines can be used in patients, Sahin said that they might be available “before 2030”.
The mRNA COVID-19-19 vaccine works by delivering the genetic instructions of the harmless spike protein of the coronavirus to the body. These genetic instructions are accepted by cells that produce a large number of spike proteins, and then these proteins or antigens can tell the immune system’s antibodies and other defense systems what to search for and attack. Tourelli believes that the same approach can be taken to allow the immune system to find and destroy cancer cells.
Before the outbreak of COVID-19, biontech had been studying mRNA cancer vaccines. However, after the epidemic spread around the world, the company turned to developing COVID-19-19 vaccines.
It is reported that several cancer vaccines of BioNTech are currently in clinical trials. Tourelli said that Pfizer and biontech successfully developed the COVID-19-19 vaccine, which also promoted the company’s work in developing cancer vaccines.
BioNTech hopes to develop treatments for colon cancer, melanoma and other cancer types, but it still faces major obstacles. Because cancer cells that make up tumors may contain many different proteins, it is extremely difficult to make vaccines targeting all cancer cells rather than healthy tissues.
Toureli said that BioNTech learned how to make mRNA vaccines faster during the epidemic, and better understood how people’s immune system responded to mRNA. The intense development and rapid rollout of COVID-19-19 vaccines have also made drug regulators more skilled in approving vaccines. “This will certainly accelerate our cancer vaccine,” she added.
However, Toureli is still cautious about this work. “As scientists, we are always wary of saying that we will have a cure for cancer,” she said. “We have made some breakthroughs, and we will continue to work hard.”
In August this year, Moderna, an American Biomedical Company, said that it was suing BioNTech and its partner Pfizer, alleging that it infringed the company’s patent rights for COVID-19-19 vaccines. When asked about this, Sahin responded: “Our innovation is original. We have spent 20 years researching and developing this treatment, and we will certainly fight for our intellectual property rights.”