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Why the coronavirus pandemic might help us in the fight against cancer

KHOU-TV Houston logo KHOU-TV Houston 9/10/2021 KHOU 11 Staff
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The coronavirus pandemic has been pretty rough, so why could it help lead to medical breakthroughs in our fight against cancer?

COVID-19 vaccine technology against cancer

After its success with developing an mRNA vaccine for COVID-19, BioNTech is now turning its attention to cancer. Using similar technology as the COVID shot it has created a cancer treatment that has show promise in mice and is now launching human trials to see it works in people. Those trials are happening around the world, including right here in Houston.

mRNA produce tumor-fighting proteins

So how does it work? Like the COVID vaccine, it uses messenger RNA to give the body instructions to make proteins, naturally occurring in the body, that target tumors. When tried on 20 mice with melanomas, 17 of the mice produced enough of the proteins to shrink tumors to nothing within 40 days — all with no adverse effects.

Attacked different cancers in mice

What’s interesting is the mice used had two different types of tumors. The mRNA therapy was injected into melanomas in the mice, working to shrink those. But then the proteins also traveled to lung tumors in the mice as well, inhibiting their growth. But as we know therapies that work in mice don’t always work in humans. So we will have to watch and wait to see how these human trials go.

Also watch: COVID-19 vaccine side effect causing false positive cancer screenings

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