After proving itself against COVID-19, will message RNA (mRNA) technology revolutionise vaccines and treatments for various diseases such as influenza, HIV and cancer? This is the hope expressed by many researchers in recent months, given the formidable effectiveness of the serums developed to combat the spread of Sars-CoV-2.
Building on this success, the German company BioNTech has already begun administering an experimental cancer vaccine to participants in a new phase 2 clinical trial, the specialist journal Clinical Trials Arena announced on 18 June.
A vaccine against cancer soon to be available?
As of now, the vaccine is being injected into patients with stage 3 and 4 skin cancers. At the same time, they are also receiving Libtayo, a monoclonal antibody usually used against cancer, also known as Cemiplimab. The researchers will monitor their progress and any reactions they may have, particularly with regard to the immune system.
At the heart of this new experimental protocol is the messenger RNA technology used to develop the serum. However, unlike the COVID-19 vaccine, it is not currently intended for inoculation into healthy subjects, but rather to wait and see if there will be cancer in their lifetime.
Harnessing the 'power of the immune system'
Özlem Türeci, co-founder of BioNTech, said in a press release:
Our goal is to harness the power of the immune system against cancer and infectious diseases.
We were able to demonstrate the potential of mRNA vaccines by tackling COVID-19. We must not forget that cancer is also a global health threat, even worse than the current pandemic.