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Scientists say that the way the COVID-19 vaccine stimulates the body’s immune system can be used for potential cancer vaccines. Joan Slatkin / Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images
  • Scientists are looking for ways to use the messenger RNA (mRNA) technology introduced in the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to combat cancer.
  • According to experts, mRNA can stimulate the body’s immune system to recognize and attack cancer cells.
  • They say that because of the different types of cancer, every vaccine needs to be versatile.

Messenger RNA (mRNAAccording to experts, the technology used in the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines could also be used to tackle cancer.

“Cancer cells make proteins that are targeted by RNA vaccines. Advances in this area have been reported in the treatment of melanoma.” Dr. Jeffrey A. Mets, The Chief of Staff of the American Cancer Treatment Center in Atlanta told Healthline.

“But cancer treatment is different from cancer prevention. What has improved awareness, screening, and administration of the HPV vaccine achieved in the last decade, focusing on the dramatic reduction in cervical cancer? You can see, “says Metts.

“The HPV vaccine has been shown to be able to prevent 80-90% of cervical cancers, which is a very effective strategy associated with cancer, but it doesn’t treat it,” he says. I did.

However, cancer vaccines blur the line between prevention and treatment.

Conventional inoculation as follows COVID-19 vaccine, Stimulates the body’s immune system to recognize and attack viral cells.

A Cancer vaccines work as wellTeach the body’s immune system to recognize cancer cells, to prevent the cancer from recurring, or to actively seek out and destroy tumors in the body as an immunotherapy.

One of the reasons this works is that mRNA editing is a very flexible technology.

“MRNA can be encoded by any conceivable protein. It can deliver mRNA to tumor cells to express proteins that signal the immune system and attack tumor cells as foreign pathogens that need to be eliminated. “. Jacob Becraft, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Strand Therapeutics, a company that develops PhD, mRNA therapy and synthetic biology.

“It also has enhanced sensors that deliver mRNA to immune cells and detect tumors, which effectively teaches the immune system how to kill tumor cells,” Becraft told Healthline. ..

He added: “Existing treatments require the laboratory to create synthetic proteins that kill the tumor or activate the immune system against the tumor. With mRNA, any number of these proteins are encoded into mRNAs of the same molecule. It allows tumor cells to “create their own treatment” inside the tumor. “

However, one of the challenges in treating cancer with mRNA is that it does not last long in the body until it deteriorates.

The development of technology to change this is New research It was published in the journal Nano Letters of the American Chemical Society.

Researchers in China have developed and tested a new hydrogel containing and stabilizing mRNA that allows sustained release of both mRNA and adjuvant (a compound that improves the immune response to the vaccine).

This allows the treatment to last for 30 days.

In this study, researchers reported that treated melanoma mice did not show both tumor size reduction or lung metastasis after treatment with this mRNA vaccine.

If successful in further trials, this could be a promising development for the treatment of human cancer.

The Becraft company is working on a similar technology.

“Current technology for mRNA-based cancer treatment in the clinic has a short half-life of expression and can only turn a tumor into a mini” self-treatment factory “in a day or two,” he said.

“Strand [Therapeutics] Has developed a special self-replicating mRNA technique that allows tumors to express these drugs for weeks instead of days. Not only does this improve the effectiveness of the treatment, it also reduces the number of injections to the patient and improves the patient’s quality of life, “says Becraft.

So are we seeing a future in which cancer is “cured” by RNA vaccines, or at least easier to treat?

The answer is optimistic “maybe”.

“Early, but considered a promising new drug development area. There are a number. [of] Cell reprogramming and protein replacement therapies look very promising, but the latter can progress more rapidly because they are good at measuring protein expression. ” Anna BarkerA PhD in Chief Strategy Officer, Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformational Medicine, University of Southern California, told Healthline.

Mets agreed, but cautioned.

“MRNA vaccines use techniques similar to today’s targeted cancer treatments, such as immunotherapy, but cancer and infections are not synonymous,” Mets said.

“Cancers are complex, have our DNA, and are constantly mutating. It’s important to understand that there are many cancers and the two cancers are not exactly the same,” Mets said. I am. “We need to continue to monitor the results of ongoing and future laboratory and clinical studies to better understand the potential use of mRNA for the treatment or prevention of cancer.”

mRNA therapy may include two vaccines. One is personalized medicine that targets the expression of specific cancers and the other is a treatment that targets only cancer cells using a sample of their own cells.

“It’s easy to hear simple terms such as RNA, DNA, and vaccines, and it’s hard to think that successful treatment of one group of diseases is comparable to treating another group of diseases using the same technology. It’s easy. This is a problem, “says Mets.

“We are in a position to look at the data, learn and advance as a scientific and medical community. mRNA can unleash a whole new line of vaccines against a variety of viruses and diseases,” he said. I added.

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