Scientist behind BioNTech’s COVID-19 jab works on a cancer vaccine


The German company behind the first approved COVID-19 vaccine is developing a jab to help fight cancer, which could be available in as little as two years.

BioNTech was already working on a cancer-focused jab when the COVID-19 infection began to spread around the world.

The coronavirus vaccine developed by the company and Pfizer was approved in Britain within the first 11 months of the pandemic, increasing the funding needed for BioNTech to continue to search for the cancer vaccine.

Its COVID vaccine uses mRNA, a messenger RNA, to carry instructions to the human body to make proteins that prepare it to attack a virus, the same technology that will be based on the immune system to fight tumors.

“We have several different mRNA-based cancer vaccines,” said Ozlem Tureci, who founded BioNTech with her husband Ugur Sahin.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awards Özlem Türeci and her husband Ugur Sahin the Grand Cross of Merit with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany at Bellevue Palace.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier awards Özlem Türeci and her husband Ugur Sahin the Grand Cross of Merit with the Star of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Bernd von Jutrczenka / Picture Alliance via Getty Images

When asked when such a treatment might be available, Tureci said that “that is very difficult to predict in innovative development. But we hope that in just a couple of years, we will also have our (cancer) vaccines in a place where we can offer them to people. “

On Friday, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier presented the husband and wife team with one of the highest decorations in the country – the Order of Merit.

“It started with a drug to treat cancer in one individual,” Steinmeier told the couple. “And today we have a vaccine for all humanity.”

Tureci said the award was “indeed an honor,” but said he couldn’t do it without others.

“This is the effort of many: our team at BioNTech, all the partners that participated, also governments, regulatory authorities, who worked together with a sense of urgency,” said Tureci. “In our view, this is a recognition of this effort and also a celebration of science.”

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