Cancer vaccine could be available ‘before 2030’ after ‘breakthrough’

Coronavirus: Professor Ugur Sahin says he 'will take the vaccine'

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Professors Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci, a husband and wife team, co-founded BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, in 2008. Working on pioneering and tailored cancer immunotherapies, the Covid pandemic sped up the use of mRNA technology in real life. Conventional vaccines use weakened forms of a virus whereas mRNA only uses a virus’s genetic code.

When injected with an MRI vaccine, antigens are created, which are then recognised by the immune response that prepare the body to fight the disease.

Interviewed on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme, Professor Sahin said a cancer vaccine could happen “before 2030”.

Professor Tureci told TV presenter 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.”

She added: “This will definitely accelerate our cancer vaccine.”

Professor Tureci added: “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.”

Cancer vaccines

Cancer Research UK stated: “Vaccines are a type of immunotherapy. Unlike vaccines to protect us from disease, cancer treatment vaccines are for people who already have cancer.

“Cancer vaccines help your body’s immune system recognise and attack cancer cells.”

Research within this area is considered to be “at an early stage” by the charity.

Cancer vaccines, at present, are “mainly available as part of clinical trials”.

The research charity stated cancer vaccines “are made to recognise proteins that are on particular cancer cells”.

“An antigen is a substance that triggers the immune system to respond against it,” the charity elaborated.

“For example, a virus has antigens on its surface which triggers the immune system to attack it. Body cells and cancer cells also have antigens on them.”

Cancer treatment vaccines aim to help the immune response recognise antigens on cancer cells, and to destroy them.

As with any type of treatment, side effects are possible with cancer vaccines.

Possible side effects might include redness, swelling, mild pain, or itching nearby the injection site.

Cancer vaccines could also lead to short-lived “flu-like symptoms”, such as feeling unwell.

“There might be side effects we don’t yet know about,” Cancer Research UK added.

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