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By Elspeth Mizner
ERIE, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Leading scientists said it’s possible there could be vaccines for some cancers within the next ten years.
The founders of BioNTech said promising mRNA research could lead to vaccines by 2030.
Long before Covid-19, the company was testing mRNA vaccines for certain types of cancer, but the pandemic put mRNA vaccines on the national stage, speeding up research worldwide.
According to Dr. Jason Luke, an Immunologist at UPMC’s Hillman Cancer Center said at this time mRNA vaccines have just been used for Covid-19 vaccines, but they could soon be used for these cancer vaccines. “From an immunological perspective, we are all developing little cancers all the time, so if we treat those, they never become obvious cancers, so that would be prevention. But as I just mentioned, we already have clinical trials that are going to read out with results of giving people vaccines after their cancer surgery to keep cancer from coming back, I call that treatment. So I think the answer is both and I think that’s why it’s so exciting to think about this field because if we think of the goal posts of no cancer and terrible cancer we are now trying to attack on both sides to bring the number of people that actually have to face cancer to be a much smaller group of people.”
Dr. Luke said we don’t know what cancers this vaccine will work on yet. But he did stress how important clinical trials are especially when it comes to seeing what vaccines work and what ones don’t work.
Dr. Dawson an epidemiologist and Erie News Now Contributor said this vaccine will be another tool to fight cancer. “I think in a world that is ideal and this working at it’s maximum capacity, we wouldn’t have to use things such as chemotherapy agents, that do have a lot of side effects, but we would actually use the body’s natural immunity and immune system to fight off the cancer cells that are growing”, said Dr. Dawson.
Dr. Dawson also stressed the importance of taking preventative measures now like cancer screenings and getting the HPV vaccine to prevent some kinds of cancers.
While it’s still very early on, there’s still lots of hurdles to get through, health experts said this news provides hope to many. Dr. David Bartlett the chair of AHN Cancer Institute said, “We have always felt that we could harvest the immune system a number of ways to treat cancer and this would be an exciting and new way to do that to use these mRNA vaccines to target cancer so this is definitely the hope for the future, this is an immune therapy approach for the future of cancer and or cancer prevention over all.”
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