The urgency for vaccines at the height of the Covid-19 outbreak may have sped up the process of researching jabs for other diseases.
A potential vaccine for cancer and heart diseases could be ready by 2030, pharmaceutical giant Moderna announced on Saturday.
Speaking to The Guardian, Moderna’s chief medical officer Dr. Paul Burton said new technology would allow the alteration and repairing of genetic mutations.
The expert revealed that studies on cancer and infectious, cardiovascular, autoimmune and rare diseases displayed “tremendous promise,” especially with the recent proven effectiveness of the Covid-19 vaccine.
Dr. Burton confirmed that the pharmaceutical company is developing “personalised vaccines” to treat tumors that could help step up treatment of cancer.
“We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. I think we will be able to offer personalised cancer vaccines against multiple different tumour types to people around the world,” Dr. Burton told The Guardian.
Notably, Moderna led the production of much-needed jabs in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, which enabled researchers to explore treatments for other respiratory diseases and possibly cancer.
Commenting on the potential single-injection vaccine, Dr. Burton noted that it will be “highly effective” and could save “many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives” within the next seven years.
“I think we will have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that were previously undruggable, and I think 10 years from now, we will be approaching a world where you can truly identify the genetic cause of the disease and, with relative simplicity, go and edit that out and repair it using mRNA-based technology,” Dr. Burton said.
The expert was referring to mRNA-based therapies that guide cells to produce a protein that wakes up an individual’s immune response to battle diseases, in this case to fight cancer.
Explaining the technologies, the Moderna official said that a biopsy of a cancer patient’s tumour could be used to detect mutations, allowing health experts to provide the right vaccine.
“It can be applied to all sorts of disease areas; we are in cancer, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, rare disease,” Dr. Burton added.
In February, the United States Food and Drug Agency (FDA) granted Moderna’s cancer vaccine the breakthrough therapy designation. The FDA designation means that it will be further reviewed under an expedited process.
“I think it was an order of magnitude, that the pandemic sped [this technology] up by. It has also allowed us to scale up manufacturing, so we’ve got extremely good at making large amounts of vaccine very quickly,” Dr. Burton said.