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Vaccines for the world’s most deadly diseases, like cancer and heart disease, will likely be ready by 2030 and could save millions of lives, according to the top doctor at one the world’s leading drug companies.
The announcement is yet another sign of what many are calling “the golden age” of vaccine development, which is largely credited to the pandemic’s use of mRNA technology to create COVID-19 vaccines.
“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,” Moderna Chief Medical Officer Paul Burton, MD, PhD, told The Guardian. “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.”
The FDA recently designated two new Moderna vaccines as breakthrough therapies: a shot that prevents respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in older people, and a shot that helps prevent the recurrence of melanoma, which is a deadly skin cancer. The FDA’s breakthrough designation is given when a new treatment’s early trial results are substantially better than an existing therapy.
The mRNA vaccine technology that made headlines for its role in COVID-19 vaccines works by teaching the body how to make a specific protein to help the immune system prevent or target a certain disease.
Burton anticipates that mRNA technology will result in breakthroughs such as a cancer vaccine that can be personalized based on the features of a specific tumor.
“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,” he said.
The Moderna executive made the statements in advance of today’s annual update on its vaccine pipeline projects, which it calls “Vaccines Day.” The Massachusetts-based drugmaker said it has given someone the first dose of a “next-generation” COVID-19 vaccine in a phase III trial, has made progress on a Lyme disease shot, and is developing a vaccine for the highly contagious norovirus, which causes vomiting and diarrhea.
In all, Moderna expects “six major vaccine product launches in the next few years,” the company said in a statement, adding that it expects the COVID-19 booster market alone to be valued at $15 billion.
The Guardian: “Cancer and heart disease vaccines ‘ready by end of the decade.’ “
Moderna: “Moderna Announces Clinical and Program Updates at 4th Vaccines Day.”