Husband and wife team say cancer vaccine could be accessible to patients within next DECADE

Husband and wife team behind Pfizer-BioNTech Covid jab say cancer vaccine could be accessible to patients within next DECADE

  • Cancer cure could be available to patients by 2030, husband and wife team say
  • German Professors Ozlem Tureci and Ugur Sahin have had ‘breakthroughs’
  • Tureci: ‘A cure for cancer, or to change cancer patients’ lives, is in our grasp’
  • They developed Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Covid-19 with mRNA technology

A cure for cancer is within reach and could be available to patients before 2030, the husband and wife team behind one of the most successful Covid jabs has said.

German Professors Ozlem Tureci, 55, and Ugur Sahin, 57, said while scientists are hesitant to say that a cure for cancer is certain, they have had ‘breakthroughs’ they will keep working on.

Professor Tureci said: ‘We feel a cure for cancer, or to change cancer patients’ lives, is in our grasp.’

The couple co-founded BioNTech in Mainz, Germany, in 2008, where they worked to pioneer cancer immunotherapies tailored to individual patients and developed the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine.

They spoke about their hopes for a cancer treatment on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg program this morning.

Asked when cancer vaccines might be accessed by many patients around the world, Professor Sahin said: ‘we believe this will happen, even in a broader scale, before 2030’.

Professor Tureci warned: ‘As scientists we are always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer,’ before adding: ‘We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them.’

They said the development and success of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19, which became widely rolled out in the pandemic, has helped in their work finding a cure for cancer.

The couple were interviewed on BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg program

They said the development and success of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19

They said the development and success of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine against Covid-19

Their use of mRNA technology was revolutionary in the fight against Covid-19, and the couple said that its success has been influential and instructive.

Professor Tureci told Kuenssberg: ‘What we have developed over decades for cancer vaccine development has been the tailwind for developing the Covid-19 vaccine, and now the Covid-19 vaccine and our experience in developing it gives back to our cancer work.

‘We have learned how to manufacture vaccines better, faster. We have learned in a large number of people how the immune system reacts towards mRNA.’

“This will definitely accelerate our cancer vaccine,” she added.

While conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of a virus, mRNAs use only a virus’s genetic code.

While conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of a virus, mRNAs use only a virus's genetic code

While conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of a virus, mRNAs use only a virus’s genetic code

An mRNA vaccine is injected into the body, where it enters cells and tells them to create antigens which are then recognized by the immune system and prepare it to fight the disease.

Professor Tureci said the developments have also helped regulators learn about mRNA vaccines and how to deal with them.

Despite working in the field for three decades, Tureci admitted that nature and biology have ‘so many secrets’ that the couple will continue to navigate.

In August, Moderna said it was suing BioNTech and its partner, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, for patent infringement over the company's Covid-19 vaccine

In August, Moderna said it was suing BioNTech and its partner, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, for patent infringement over the company’s Covid-19 vaccine

‘Every step, every patient we treat in our cancer trials helps us to find out more about what they are against and how to address that,’ she said.

In August, Moderna said it was suing BioNTech and its partner, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, for patent infringement over the company’s Covid-19 vaccine.

When asked about the legal action, Professor Sahin said: ‘Our innovations are original. We have spent 20 years of research in developing this type of treatment and of course we will fight for our intellectual property.’

Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci: The husband and wife ‘dream team’ behind the coronavirus vaccine

Physicians Ugur Sahin and Ozlem Tureci are the husband and wife ‘dream team’ behind the breakthrough Covid-19 vaccine that will soon be rolled out across the UK.

The UK is the first country in the world to approve the vaccine, which is shown to be 95% effective and works in all age groups.

BioNTech chief executive Prof. Sahin worked alongside his wife and the firm’s chief medical officer, Dr. Tureci, to develop the jab.

While the couple is said to be worth billions, Professor Sahin still reportedly cycles to work

While the couple is said to be worth billions, Professor Sahin still reportedly cycles to work

BioNTech began preparing against the coronavirus in January after Prof Sahin read an article in a medical journal that left him convinced the virus would spread into a full-blown pandemic.

BioNTech, founded just 12 years ago, has been working alongside the 171-year-old titan of the pharmaceutical industry, Pfizer.

Professor Sahin came to Germany from Turkey when he was four years old. He graduated as a doctor from the University of Cologne in 1990.

Dr. Tureci, also of Turkish heritage, earned her MD at the Saarland University Faculty of Medicine in Homburg, Germany, and is now also the president of the Association for Cancer Immunotherapy.

Bonded by a shared love of medical research and oncology, the couple founded BioNTech in 2008, with the aim of pursuing a broader range of cancer immunotherapy tools.

On their wedding day in 2002, according to reports, the pair only briefly left their work at the lab to attend the registry office.

While the couple is said to be worth billions, Professor Sahin still reportedly cycles to work.

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