Vaccines for CANCER and heart disease will be ready by 2030, Moderna chief says
- Heart disease and cancer are biggest killers in US, behind one in three deaths
- But scientists at Moderna say they could vaccinate against them using mRNA
Vaccines against cancer and heart disease could be ready by the end of the decade, according to Moderna’s chief executive.
Dr Paul Burton, said the advancements made in the field of mRNA — the technology used to make his company’s flagship Covid shot — has ushered in a golden era of vaccines.
He predicts that by 2030 there will be vaccines for ‘all sorts’ of incurable conditions, saving ‘hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.’
Early studies have already shown ‘tremendous promise’, he added. But they are not likely to be your typical vaccine — they will need to be highly personalized and expensive.
Scientists at Moderna say it may be possible to vaccinate against heart disease and cancer in as little as five years (stock image)
Heart disease and cancer are the biggest killers in the US, behind 1.3million fatalities annually — or more than one in three of all deaths recorded.
Dr Paul Burton, the chief executive of the vaccine maker, told The Guardian: ‘We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives.
‘I think we will be able to offer personalized cancer vaccines against multiple different tumor types to people around the world.’
He added: ‘I think what we have learned in recent months is that if you ever thought that mRNA was just for infectious diseases, or just for Covid, the evidence now is that that’s absolutely not the case.
‘It can be applied to all sorts of disease areas; We are in cancer, infectious diseases, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, rare disease.
‘We have studies in all of those areas and they have all shown tremendous promise.’
Dr Burton did not say how the vaccines would work, but previous studies have shown how mRNA could be used to fight cancer.
mRNA vaccines work by instructing cells to produce a protein that triggers an immune response against a specific pathogen, like Covid.
Scientists say that these instructions can also be tweaked, however, to get cells to make the antigens from the surface of cancer cells.
This would trigger a response and alert the immune system to a cancer growing inside the body, sparking an attack.
Doctors say mRNA vaccines could be tweaked for each individual patient to account for different cancer types and differences between patients. But this is likely to prove expensive.
Trials of mRNA cancer vaccines are already underway in the UK and the US, with results expected over the coming years.
Scientists also suggest that mRNA vaccines could be used to treat heart disease — the biggest killer in the US.
Some suggest they could be used to target proteins made by specific genes that cause high levels of cholesterol in the blood, raising the risk of heart disease.
Others suggest they could also be used to prompt the production of specific proteins involved in repair of the heart and its function.
In one study published last year, scientists at the University of Pennsylvania said they had used mRNA to re-engineer cells in mice to remove fibrosis.
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