A pharmaceutical firm that produced a leading Covid-19 jab said vaccines against cancer as well as cardiovascular and autoimmune diseases can be ready by 2030, which can potentially save millions of lives.
Moderna’s chief medical officer Paul Burton believed the company will be able to offer vaccines for “all sorts of disease areas” in as little as five years.
Studies into the vaccines have shown “tremendous promise”, Dr Burton told British newspaper The Guardian, adding that his company is developing cancer vaccines that target different tumour types.
“We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. I think we will be able to offer personalised cancer vaccines against multiple different tumour types to people around the world,” he said.
Cardiovascular diseases and cancer are a leading cause of death worldwide, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
An estimated 17.9 million people died from cardiovascular diseases in 2019, said the WHO, while cancer accounted for nearly 10 million deaths in 2020, or nearly one in six deaths.
Dr Burton also told The Guardian that multiple respiratory infections could be covered by a single injection.
This will allow vulnerable people to be protected against Covid-19, flu and respiratory syncytial virus – a virus that causes mild, cold-like symptoms.
Meanwhile, Dr Burton said messenger RNA (mRNA) therapies could be available for rare diseases for which there are currently no drugs
“I think we will have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that were previously undruggable, and I think that 10 years from now, we will be approaching a world where you truly can identify the genetic cause of a disease and, with relative simplicity, go and edit that out and repair it using mRNA-based technology.”
Vaccines based on mRNA, or messenger ribonucleic acid, teach cells to make a protein to prompt an immune response.
Moderna and drugmaker Pfizer-BioNTech were the first to use the technology to create the mRNA vaccines used to fight Covid-19.
Dr Burton attributed the progress of the vaccines to advancement in the field of mRNA – the technology used by Moderna to make its Covid-19 shot – with some experts saying 15 years of progress was now in the final stretches due to the quick rollout of the Covid-19 jabs.
“I think what we have learned in recent months is that if you ever thought that mRNA was just for infectious diseases, or just for Covid, the evidence now is that that’s absolutely not the case,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.
“It can be applied to all sorts of disease areas; we are in cancer, infectious disease, cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, rare disease. We have studies in all of those areas and they have all shown tremendous promise.”