Cancer vaccines could be ready in ‘couple of years,’ scientist behind Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine says

Nancy Dillon, New York Daily News
·1 min read

Half of the husband-wife team that developed the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine now safely curbing coronavirus in the U.S. says the shot’s mRNA platform could soon be used to deliver a cancer vaccine.

“We have several different cancer vaccines based on mRNA,” 1/4 u00d6zlem Türeci, who co-founded BioNTech in Germany with her husband Ugur Sahin, told the Associated Press in an interview published Friday.

“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,” she said.

Türeci and Sahin were on a quest to train the body’s immune system to tackle tumors when they decided last year to turn their attention to coronavirus.

It was January, and they became convinced the virus infecting people in China had the potential to explode into a pandemic.

They teamed up with deep-pocketed U.S. pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, and within a matter of months, they had the leading vaccine contender, soon proving it was more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19 in trial participants.

Türeci told the AP she and her colleagues have all received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine themselves, so people can rest assured it’s safe.

“Yes, we have been vaccinated,” she said.

On Friday, she and Sahin received one of Germany’s highest honors, the Order of Merit, at a ceremony attended by Chancellor Angela Merkel, a trained scientist herself.

“You began with a drug to treat cancer in a single individual,” German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier told the couple. “And today we have a vaccine for all of humanity.”

Türeci said ahead of the ceremony that getting the award was “indeed an honor.”