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Health

Can mRNA technology used in COVID-19 vaccines be used to cure cancer? – The Jerusalem Post

One of the scientists behind the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine – the first widely approved immunization for the novel coronavirus – claims that the technology the companies used could be applied to treat another deadly disease – cancer.Ozlem Tureci co-founded the German company BioNTech alongside her husband in the late 2000s. BioNTech had, for years, been developing a way to fight cancer and eliminate tumors – technology which they pivoted towards defeating the novel coronavirus.The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, called BNT162b2, is based on messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, which uses a chemical messenger to instruct cells to make proteins that mimic the outer surface of the new coronavirus, thereby creating immunity. mRNA relies on synthetic genes that can be generated and manufactured in weeks, and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines.The new technology was the first to be approved for a COVID-19 vaccine; Pfizer and BioNTech have already begun collaborating to develop influenza vaccines based on the mRNA technology they incorporated into BNT162b2.Israel’s population relies heavily on the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, and has administered at least one dose of the COVID-19 mRNA to more than 5 million Israeli citizens. Tens of millions of other doses have been administered around the world.“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,” Tureci told The Associated Press.

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if(window.location.pathname.indexOf(“656089”) != -1){console.log(“hedva connatix”);document.getElementsByClassName(“divConnatix”)[0].style.display =”none”;}Although there has been a clear air of vaccine hesitancy – the reluctance or refusal to be vaccinated – amid world populations, Teluci noted to AP that “no corners were cut” nor stone left unturned while racing to develop a vaccine.“There is a very rigid process in place and the process does not stop after a vaccine has been approved,” Teluci told AP. “It is, in fact, continuing now all around the world, where regulators have used reporting systems to screen and to assess any observations made with our or other vaccines.”As Teluci noted, the success of COVID-19 vaccines based off of mRNA is smoothing the way for using the novel technology not only in other vaccines, but possibly as treatments for cystic fibrosis, cancer and other hard-to-treat diseases.Both of the vaccines used by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna rely on mRNA technology.Scientists say mRNA has the potential to target diseases that cannot be reached by conventional drugs.The technology is often likened to the operating system on a computer, allowing drugmakers to alter their target by inserting new genetic code into a manufactured form of mRNA, a natural chemical messenger that instructs the body to produce specific proteins.Its advantage in vaccines is versatility and speed compared to standard technology requiring long lead times to produce and purify proteins and create a vaccine.Over 150 mRNA vaccines and therapeutics are in development globally, Roots Analysis said. Most are still in early animal testing, but more than 30 have reached human testing.mRNA can be very difficult to work with, making future successes with treatments uncertain.Moderna, for instance, is working on treatments for heart disease, cancer, and rare diseases. Its most advanced non-COVID program is a vaccine for cytomegalovirus, the leading cause of birth defects in the United States.Dr. Drew Weissman, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, is one of the two scientists credited with a groundbreaking 2005 discovery of how to alter the molecular structure of mRNA to keep it stable enough to get past the body’s defenses.In the past nine months, Weissman said 20 companies working in the field of mRNA have asked him to join their boards of directors, and the number of labs asking to collaborate with Penn on mRNA work has nearly tripled.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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