By 2030 there will be Vaccines against Cancer and Heart Diseases

Health | April 10, 2023, Monday // 15:55|  views


Millions of lives could be saved by a range of new vaccines for a range of diseases, including cancer, experts say. A leading pharmaceutical company has announced that by 2030 there will be vaccines against cancer, cardiovascular, autoimmune and other diseases, the Guardian writes.

Studies of these vaccines show "enormous promise," with some researchers saying 15 years of progress has been "unfolded" in 12 to 18 months, thanks to the success of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Paul Burton, chief medical officer of the pharmaceutical company Moderna, said he believes the company will be able to offer such a treatment for "all kinds of diseases" in just five years.

The company that created a leading coronavirus vaccine is developing cancer vaccines that target different types of tumors.

"We will have this vaccine and it will be very effective and save hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. I think we will be able to offer people around the world personalized vaccines against many different types of tumors," Burton is convinced.

According to the Moderna representative, one vaccine can cover multiple respiratory infections, which will allow vulnerable people to be protected from COVID, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), and for rare diseases for which until now there are no drugs, mRNA therapies will be available. mRNA-based therapies work by teaching cells how to make a protein that triggers the body's immune response against disease.

"I think we'll have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that haven't been treatable before, and in 10 years we'll be approaching a world where we can actually identify the genetic cause of a disease and with relative ease we edit and repair it using mRNA-based technology", says Burton.

However, scientists warn that the accelerated progress that has increased over the past three years will be wasted if a high level of investment is not maintained.

How personalized cancer vaccines work

The mRNA molecule instructs cells to make proteins. By injecting a synthetic form, cells can pump out proteins that we want our immune system to attack. An mRNA-based cancer vaccine would alert the immune system to the cancer already developing in the patient's body so that it could attack and destroy it without destroying healthy cells.

This involves identifying protein fragments on the surface of cancer cells that are not present on healthy cells and that are most likely to trigger an immune response, then creating pieces of mRNA that will instruct the body how to produce them.

To do this, doctors first need to take a biopsy from the patient's tumor and send it to a laboratory, where its genetic material is sequenced to identify mutations that are not present in healthy cells.

A machine learning algorithm then determines which of these mutations are responsible for the cancer's growth. Over time, it also learned which parts of the abnormal proteins these mutations coded for were most likely to trigger an immune response. Then, mRNAs for the most promising antigens are produced and packaged into a personalized vaccine.

"I think what we've learned in recent months is that mRNA is not just for infectious diseases or just for COVID-19," says Burton.

"The technology can be applied to all kinds of disease areas; we are working in cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular diseases, autoimmune diseases, rare diseases. We have studies in all these areas and they all show tremendous promise," he points out.

In January, Moderna announced results from a late-stage study of its experimental respiratory syncytial virus mRNA vaccine that found it was 83.7 percent effective at preventing at least two symptoms, such as cough and fever, in patients age 60 and older years. Based on these data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted the vaccine "breakthrough therapy" designation, meaning that its regulatory review will be expedited.

In February, the FDA granted the same designation to Moderna's personalized cancer vaccine based on recent results in patients with skin cancer (melanoma).

"The pandemic accelerated this technology by an order of magnitude. It allowed us to scale up production, so we became extremely good at producing large quantities of vaccine in a very short time frame," Burton points out.

Pfizer has also begun recruiting candidates for a late-stage clinical trial of an mRNA-based flu vaccine and, in collaboration with Biontech, has turned its attention to other infectious diseases, including herpes.

"The findings from the COVID-19 vaccine development process have influenced our overall approach to mRNA research and development and the way Pfizer conducts research and development (R&D) more broadly. In just one year we've accumulated a decade's worth of scientific knowledge," a company spokesperson said.

Other vaccine technologies have also benefited from the pandemic, including next-generation protein-based vaccines such as the COVID-19 vaccine made by US-based biotech company Novavax. It helps the immune system "think" it is facing a virus, so it reacts more actively.

"There is a huge acceleration of not only traditional vaccine technologies, but also new technologies that have not been licensed before. Certainly mRNA falls into that category, and so does our vaccine," said Dr. Philip Dubowski, president of the department. for research and development at Novavax.

Dr. Richard Hackett, CEO of the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation, commented that the biggest impact of the pandemic has been shortening development timelines for many previously unvalidated vaccine platforms. "This means that things that could have developed in the next decade or even the next 15 years were implemented in a year or a year and a half..." he explained.

Professor Andrew Pollard, director of the Oxford Group on Vaccines and chairman of the UK's Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunization (JCVI), commented that there was undoubtedly much more interest in vaccines. According to him, the big question is what will happen from here?

With the looming threat of wider conflict in Europe, there is a risk that the focus on vaccines will be lost without harnessing the momentum and technological knowledge gained during the pandemic. Pollard thinks that would be a mistake.

"Pandemics are as big a threat, if not bigger, than the military, because we know that they will happen for sure from where we are today. But we are not investing in creating them even the amount that it would cost the construction of a nuclear submarine", he was categorical.

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Tags: diseases, vaccines, cancer


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