Ozlem Tureci, co-founder of BioNTech, shared the company has long been working on a way to use immune systems to tackle cancerous tumours in the body. Following the widespread approval of the firms coronavirus vaccine, also worked on by Pfizer, BioNTech plans to continue development of cancer vaccines.
Ms Tureci explained their coronavirus vaccine uses messenger RNA, or mRNA, to carry instructions into the human body for making proteins that prime it to attack a specific virus.
Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine also uses mRNA to develop immunity against the virus.
She suggested in an interview the same principle can be applied to get the immune system to take on tumours.
The BioNTech co-founder and chief medical officer said: “We have several different cancer vaccines based on mRNA.”
READ MORE: Life after death: Man describes personal account of the afterlife
When asked how soon a vaccination against cancer could be released, Ms Tureci admitted “that’s very difficult to predict in innovative development”.
But she added: “We expect that within only a couple of years, we will also have our vaccines (against) cancer at a place where we can offer them to people.”
It followed German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awarding Ms Tureci and Ugur Sahin the Order of Merit.
He told the couple: “You began with a drug to treat cancer in a single individual.
“And today we have a vaccine for all of humanity.”
In December 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration approved a breast cancer vaccine for clinical trials.
The Genetic Literacy Project (GLP) explained how a cancer vaccine could work, splitting them into ‘treatment (or therapeutic) vaccines’ and ‘preventative vaccines’.
They also reported: “The Anixa Biosciences breast cancer vaccine is one of many being evaluated for clinical use as cancer vaccines continue to show promise.
“That same tactic of injecting patients with tumour cell proteins has shown promise in the treatment of melanoma; a serious and potentially fatal form of skin cancer.”
The GLP also pointed to Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who “have developed a personalised vaccine that trains immune cells to recognise proteins on the surface of melanoma cells and destroy them”.