Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, who co-founded BioNTech, the German firm that partnered with Pfizer to manufacture a revolutionary mRNA Covid vaccine, said they had made breakthroughs that fuelled their optimism for cancer vaccines in the coming years.
Asked when cancer vaccines based on mRNA might be ready to use in patients, Prof Sahin said they could be available “before 2030”.
An mRNA Covid vaccine works by ferrying the genetic instructions for harmless spike proteins on the Covid virus into the body.
The same approach can be taken to prime the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells, said Türeci, BioNTech’s chief medical officer.
BioNTech was working on mRNA cancer vaccines before the pandemic struck but the firm pivoted to produce Covid vaccines in the face of the global emergency.
The German firm hopes to develop treatments for bowel cancer, melanoma and other cancer types, but substantial hurdles lie ahead.
“As scientists we are always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer,” she said. »