On a Roll

COVID Vaccine Developer: Cancer Shots Are Next

BioNTech cofounder Ozlem Türeci suggests that cancer vaccines are coming soon.

Mar 19 / Dan Robitzski
Mat Napo via Unsplash / Futurism
Image by Mat Napo via Unsplash / Futurism

Özlem Türeci, the scientist who cofounded the company BioNTech — of “Pfizer/BioNTech coronavirus vaccine” fame — says that we might have working vaccines for cancer within the next few years.

Developing a vaccine that prevents cancer was actually Türeci’s original goal for BioNTech, she told the Associated Press. But now, after the company’s resounding success and the influx of funding stemming from its COVID vaccine, she says it’s finally a feasible project to pursue and bring to fruition.

Like the coronavirus vaccine, BioNTech is working on cancer vaccines that use messenger RNA to instruct a person’s immune system how to spot, target, and kill cancerous tumors when they start to grow, according to the AP.

“We have several different cancer vaccines based on mRNA,” Türeci told the publication.

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Still, Türeci isn’t sure when such a vaccine might be ready and especially when it would actually be available for use.

“That’s very difficult to predict in innovative development,” she told the AP. “But we expect that within only a couple of years, we will also have our vaccines [against] cancer at a place where we can offer them to people.”

But that’s not surprising — the road from developing to testing, validating, and distributing a new vaccine is long and arduous. But Türeci suggested that BioNTech is well-equipped to handle the task after tackling the drastically-accelerated process of working with Pfizer on a COVID-19 vaccine.

“It pays off to make bold decisions and to trust that if you have an extraordinary team, you will be able to solve any problem and obstacle which comes your way in real time,” Türeci told the AP.

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