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Cancer and heart disease vaccines could be ready by 2030

Posted on the 17th April 2023

Vaccine Injections

Millions of lives could be saved by a groundbreaking set of new vaccines for a range of conditions including cancer, experts have said.

Scientists at Moderna say they are confident that jabs for cancer, cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases, and other conditions will be ready by end of the decade.

They added that studies into these vaccinations are also showing “tremendous promise”, with 15 years’ worth of progress having been “unspooled” in 12 to 18 months thanks to the success of the Covid jab.

Dr Paul Burton, the chief medical officer of pharmaceutical company Moderna, said he believes the firm will be able to offer such treatments for “all sorts of disease areas” in as little as five years.

“We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives,” he said.

“I think we will be able to offer personalized cancer vaccines against multiple different tumor types to people around the world.”

Dr Burton also said that multiple respiratory infections could be covered by a single injection – allowing vulnerable people to be protected against Covid, flu and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) – while mRNA therapies could be available for rare diseases for which there are currently no drugs.

Therapies based on mRNA work by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers the body’s immune response against disease.

However, scientists have warned that the accelerated progress, which has surged in the past three years, will be wasted if a high level of investment is not maintained.

Meanwhile, Pfizer has begun recruitment for a late-stage clinical trial of an mRNA-based influenza vaccine, and has its sights set on other infectious diseases, including shingles, in collaboration with BioNTech.

Other vaccine technologies have also benefited from the pandemic, including next-generation protein-based vaccines, such as the Covid jab made by US-based biotechnology company Novavax. The jab helps the immune system think it is encountering a virus, so it mounts a stronger response.

In October 2022, the husband and wife team behind one of the most successful Covid vaccines of the pandemic highlighted further uses for the mRNA Covid vaccine technology.

Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, who co-founded BioNTech, the German firm that partnered with Pfizer to manufacture a Covid vaccine, said they had made breakthroughs that fueled their optimism for cancer vaccines in the coming years.

Related: Science behind Covid vaccines could fight cancer

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