Can gene technology help in the fight against cancer?

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Using mRNA technology to cure cancer
By Jerry Brownstein
The co-creator of one of the Covid-19 vaccines says that the same technology could be used to fight cancer. Ozlem Tureci and her husband Ugur Sahin are the co-founders of the German company BioNTech. In early 2020 they were working on a way to use the body's immune system to cure cancerous tumours. But when they heard about Covid-19, the couple quickly switched the focus of their research to combating that virus. In just eleven months, in partnership with U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, they developed a vaccine which was approved for use around the world.

The vaccines created by BioNTech use messenger RNA (mRNA) to carry instructions into the body to make proteins that provoke the immune system to prevent the Covid-19 virus. The cancer treatment works differently, as the mRNA is designed to attack a specific tumour in the body. Your immune system is then trained to guard against any re-occurrences of that cancer. Ms Tureci hopes that “within a few years our vaccines to fight cancer will be ready for the public.”


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