In a nutshell: Starting September this year in England, the German company BioNTech, which developed one of the most widely used Covid-19 vaccines together with Pfizer, will begin clinical trials of personalized cancer vaccines based on the same mRNA technology as Covid vaccines.
Following the release of a Covid-19 vaccine, BioNTech wants to use the same messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) technology in other treatments, including cancer vaccines. The treatment, designed specifically for each person, provides the immune system with the genetic code of a certain type of cancer, so only the tumor can be the target. An improvement over chemotherapy, which affects many cells, including healthy ones. Essentially, mRNA vaccines will contain a genetic blueprint that encourages the immune system to attack only cancer cells.
BioNTech partnership with the UK government could provide treatment for around 10,000 UK patients by 2030.
“Once cancer is discovered, we must ensure that the best possible treatments are available as soon as possible, including for breast, lung and pancreatic cancer,” said UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
“BioNTech has helped the world become a leader in Covid-19 vaccine development and they share our commitment to scientific advancement, innovation and cutting-edge scientific technology, making them ideal partners to work together on cancer vaccines.”
Some of the patients in the trial will have cancer that has already been treated – the hope is that the vaccine will prevent it from returning. The trial will also include patients with advanced cancer that treatment can reduce. In both cases, multiple doses of the vaccine may be needed.
BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Şahin said the agreement was based on lessons learned during the pandemic on how the UK’s publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) worked with academia, the regulator and the private sector to roll out vaccines so quickly. . . “And there are opportunities for genomic analysis. The UK is one of the leading countries in this regard,” Shaheen said.
BioNTech’s investment will also include the establishment of a new R&D center and offices in the UK.
mRNA production is expensive—the market is predicted to be $23 billion by 2035—although BioNTech says its cancer vaccines will be available to healthcare systems. Details of the UK deal have not been released, but for the NHS, which is currently in the midst of a massive nurses’ strike over a salary offer, the effectiveness of the cancer vaccines should make their price justify.