- The COVID-19 vaccine uses the first mRNA technology of its kind to protect a person from infection.
- Scientists are now using the technology in other difficult to treat diseases, such as cancer and HIV.
- Clinical trials are currently underway and are likely to yield preliminary results.
- Visit the Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Scientists are experimenting with COVID-19 vaccine technology to treat late-stage illnesses such as cancer and HIV, Inverse reports.
That’s because the coronavirus epidemic pushed scientists to create the first vaccine, using mRNA, or a tiny piece of coronavirus disrupting protein, to create an immune response to protect against infection.
It̵7;s the way vaccine researchers have been studying over the past 25 years, Insider previously reported.
Following the results of powerful clinical trials and millions of successful vaccinations with mRNA-based COVID-19 vaccines, researchers are now looking at how these findings could find alternative therapies.
Scientists are preparing to study mRNA for cancer and HIV treatment.
Scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are preparing to study mRNA as a cancer treatment now.
They believe that mRNA can be used to prevent cancer recurrence. Van Morris, an oncologist who heads clinical trials, said in a recent article on MD Anderson’s website.
The chances of recurrence vary depending on the type of cancer and are most common are ovarian, bladder and glioblastoma. Recurrence occurs when a small number of cancer cells are in the body after treatment, multiply and in some cases move to other parts of the body.
In a trial, now in phase two, doctors will test cancer patients who remove the tumor and undergo chemotherapy. When the tests revealed cancer cells that were still circulating throughout the body, the researchers created an individualized mRNA cocktail.
“We sincerely hope that with personalized vaccines, we are preparing the immune system to hunt down residual tumor cells, rinse and cure patients,” Morris said.
Scientists at Scripps University in California are also looking at HIV, a sexually transmitted infection affecting 1.2 million people worldwide as a candidate for the mRNA vaccine.
Like how the COVID-19 vaccine attaches to the sharp coronavirus proteins and kills them, the HIV vaccine can do the same with HIV particles, said William Schief, an immunologist at Scripps Research, who helped develop the HIV vaccine. V in the Phase 1 trial, said in a press release.
Once Schief’s team realized that mRNA could be used to target and kill HIV, they would use that technology in future studies, hoping to create an HIV vaccine soon.
Since the introduction of the COVID-19 vaccine, researchers have also focused on a disease they expect to become more threatening in a few years.
Oxford University scientists working with AstraZeneca to develop their COVID-19 vaccine are working on a vaccine to treat sexually transmitted gonorrhea, Insider previously reported.