Popular vaccine manufacturers like Moderna and Pfizer/BioNtech are using mRNA technology to create the vaccines that have shown the most effective against the virus.
At the moment, these companies have shifted their attention to formulating a vaccine based on similar m-RNA technologies that can prevent cancer from returning after the first phase of treatment.
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Such advancement can also promise the emergence of new forms of treatment that can counter any advanced tumors growing in the body.
How far is the solution:
Experts believe that the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines in the treatment of cancer will not be clearly assessed before another year, at the earliest.
However, if the efficiency is proved, then they can be added to the ongoing immune therapies that prompt the body to fight against any malignant tumor growth within the body.
Specialists like a melanoma expert at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Dr. Ryan Sullivan implies that the prospects of m-RNA technology for treating cancer looks hopeful, based on which patients enrolling for a trial have been started
Yet, Sullivan adds that it is best not to consider the m-RNA technology a miracle in cancer treatment, rather just a part of the solutions that can be available.
Caution on the part of the experts:
Specialists, like an oncologist Dr. Stephen Hanh and the former official at the Food and Drug Administration, states that the caution remains on the part of the doctors because vaccine trial in the past for cancer treatment has not shown any promising result.
However, this time, the trials may prove to be successful since they are aimed at the individual’s immune system and the immune system plays a significant role in cancer treatment.
How are the prospects different this time:
Throughout the last decade, pharmaceutical companies are focused on finding a way to boost the immune system of the body to fight off malignant tumors like melanoma that pose a serious risk for developing cancer.
Such researches have shown how inactivating the tumors can induce the immune system of the body to actively fight off the tumor.
Based on such advancements the survival rate followed by melanoma has gone up to 50%, compared to 10 years back, when only 5% of people with diagnosed melanoma had survived.
The challenges of cancer treatment:
The biggest challenge in finding a treatment for cancer is that the immune system of the body identifies the cancerous growths as part of the self.
Oftentimes much-targeted cancer therapy can hence affect the healthy cells of the body, making cancer treatment a very damaging experience for the body.
Moderna and other companies are following a similar pattern, where they are deriving cells from malignant tumors and using computer analysis to mark the differences from normal cells.
Such differences are then used as a marker for developing targeted therapy for treating cancer.
So far, it has been possible to identify the mutation that induces the presence of a particular protein exclusive to cancer cells.
The m-RNA can be used to trigger the body to produce such proteins that will then be attached to the surface of the cancer cells.
This will enable the immune system of the body to identify the cancer cells and attack them as a normal immune response of the body.
Role of covid in the cancer research advancement:
The fight against covid popularized m-RNA technology among scientists and doctors, also showing how conveniently it can be used to treat diseases.
The covid research also showed that large-scale production of mRNA vaccine is possible in a very short time.
Such enormous production of mRNA vaccines would have seemed like fiction even a decade ago.
However, the challenges remain, as, during the production of the vaccine for covid, the genetic code of the virus was available that made it easier to create the vaccine, but in the case of cancer, the genetic code of the tumor has been determined before attempting to formulate any vaccine.