BioNTech, creators of the Pfizer vaccine, plan to use tech used for Covid jabs, to fight cancer
Husband and wife team Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin, co-founders of BioNTech, have spent twenty years searching for a method to trigger the body’s immune system to tackle tumours. The technology used on that research was then applied to working on the successful Pfizer Covid vaccine. It is thought that this same method can now be used to help fight tumours, by harnessing the body’s immune system.
With the global onslaught of the Covid-19 virus, the couple decided to apply their two decades of research, which they dubbed ‘Operation Lightspeed’ towards the new global pandemic threat. Within 11 month their vaccine had been given approval by the British government as one of two vaccines to help tackle Covid-19. This was to be the very first vaccine to come out the Mainz-based company and they had to conduct large scale clinical trails and then find a method to manufacture the vaccine in large quantities, to meet a global demand. Pfizer was then brought in, along with China’s Fosun Pharma, to bring in assets, capabilities and a geographical footprint which BioNTech did not have.
From the very onset, it was planned that any new vaccine they produced, would need pass any rigorous scrutiny of the regulators and with the help of BioNTech’s team of 60 staff from around the world, they were able to develop a vaccine that worked. No corners were cut in getting the vaccine approved in the race to find a workable vaccine. Even once a vaccine is approved, it will continue to be improved as screening in place around the world, assess how the vaccine is working and observations made in how effective it is in various worldwide locations.
Now that BioNTech’s vaccine has been approved, the value of the company has increased, enabling them to invest back into their original cancer research project to develop a new tool against cancer. The Pfizer vaccine uses a RNA or mRMA, which carries instructions into the body by making proteins that prime it to attack a specific virus. This principal can now be applied to trigger the immune system to take on tumours.
With the success of their Pfizer vaccine, BioNTech can now use the knowledge leant from the developing the corona virus vaccine, on finding a method of tackling tumours.