After Coronavirus, the Next Target is Cancer

HBI Blog / After Coronavirus, the Next Target is Cancer

Ozlem Tureci, who co-founded BioNTech with her husband, won the race to deliver the first widely used vaccine against coronavirus. She has assured people that the vaccine is safe and the technology used behind it will soon be used to fight another global plague – cancer.

The Journey from Cancer to COVID-19…

Last year, she was busy working on a way to attach the body’s immune system to tackle tumors when she learned of an unknown virus infecting people in China. She, along with her husband, Ugur Sahin, decided to apply their two-decade-long research technology to the new threat, and named the effort “Project Lightspeed”.

Cancer

Within 11 months, Britain had authorized the use of mRNA vaccine developed by BioNTech and U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer. A week later, the United States started rolling out the same vaccine for the frontline workers. Tens of millions of people around the world have received the shot since December.

… And Back to Cancer

BioNTech’s profile has witnessed massive growth during the pandemic, as has its value. The funds can help the company pursue its original goal of developing a new tool against cancer. The vaccines made by BioNTech-Pfizer and Moderna use messenger RNA, or mRNA to deliver instructions into the body for making the proteins attack a specific virus. The same principle can help the immune system take on tumors.

Tureci, who is also the chief medical officer of BioNTech, has assured us that they have several different mRNA-based cancer vaccines. However, it is difficult to predict when such a therapy might be available for people. She expects that in a couple of years the vaccines against cancer will be in such a place where they can be offered to people.

As of now, Tureci and Sahin are trying their best to ensure timely delivery of the vaccines ordered by the governments and that the shots respond effectively to the new mutation in the virus.

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