Professors Olzem Tureci and Ugur Sahin, who co-founded BioNTech, are now working on cancer vaccines that are looking likely to become available before 2030. Their cancer vaccine would likely build upon advances made in developing the COVID-19 vaccine, which BioNTech worked on in collaboration with Pfizer.
The vaccine would aim to train the body to recognise cancers and attack them, using mRNA technology. The scientists aim to produce individualised vaccines for the patients, allowing their immune systems to respond and check the rest of the body for tumour cells, which it can then eliminate. The vaccine dose would be given immediately after surgery to ensure the best results.
Tureci and Sahin appear confident that their technology will be efficient, with Tureci answering Laura Keunssberg’s question as to whether the treatment may not work by stating: “I don’t think so, everything we have learned about the immune system and what we achieve with a cancer vaccine shows, in principle, the clear activity – we can induce those killer T cells, we can direct them.” There are still tweaks to be made to the treatment, with potential for the vaccines to be used in combination with other treatments and drugs, however at this very early stage the vaccines appear promising.
Tureci continued: “Every step and every patient we treat in these cancer trials helps us to understand more and more about what we are against and how to address that.”