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COVID-19 ISO Insights

mRNA Vaccines Moving Beyond Covid-19: Malaria, Flu, and Cancer Vaccines all Reportedly in the Works

July 6, 2021

By Travis Decaminada

Key Takeaway: The Covid-19 pandemic instigated massive investments in medical research which in turn lead to numerous scientific advancements. Some of these achievements will likely benefit society after the pandemic, especially mRNA vaccines. New mRNA vaccines are reportedly being developed that may prevent a variety of diseases, notably malaria and certain types of cancer.

As noted in a previous post examining new antiviral surfaces, one of the few positive aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the amount of innovate science and research which came about as a response. The investments made in medical research over the past year will likely not lose value the moment that the pandemic “ends”. In fact, these investments have already reportedly spurred the development of novel medical treatments for diseases beyond Covid-19. Of particular note are mRNA vaccines.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), mRNA vaccines differ from traditional vaccines in that only a small part of a virus is used to stimulate an immune response (and thus generate immunity). Per the CDC, mRNA vaccines are reportedly easier to develop and manufacture which gives them a critical edge when time is of the essence and resources are limited. Further, these vaccines may also be able to provide immunity to multiple diseases with fewer shots, and may even be used to trigger immune responses related to cancer.

Some mRNA Vaccines in Development

In addition to Covid-19 vaccines, several other mRNA vaccines are currently being developed and/or trialed around the world.

Flu Vaccines

Per Barron’s, some pharmaceutical companies have already begun phase one trials on mRNA flu vaccines, the trials are expected to take please in the United States within the near future. Pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Moderna reportedly still have their respective mRNA flu vaccines in preclinical testing.

Of note, per The Washington Post, future coronavirus vaccines (or boosters) may be combined with seasonal mRNA flu shots. From the article “Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said the company is developing a flu vaccine using messenger RNA technology and plans to combine it with a coronavirus vaccine “so that you only have to get one boost” to protect against both the current coronavirus variant and flu strain.”

Malaria Vaccine

From Science Daily, “Scientists from the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Naval Medical Research Center partnered with researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Acuitas Therapeutics to develop a novel vaccine based on mRNA technology that protects against malaria”. The implications of such an advancement are huge given that Malaria is reportedly one of the deadliest diseases on Earth. As discussed in a different emerging issue post, Malaria reportedly kills upwards of 3 million humans a year (per Medscape).

Results from animal trials in regard to an mRNA Malaria vaccine are reportedly promising, achieving “high levels of protection against malaria”. However, these trials are still in their early stages.

Cancer Vaccine

The concept of a vaccine to protect against cancer is inarguably alluring. According to IFL Science, mRNA vaccines may bring humanity one step closer to just that. Per the article, clinical trials testing a melanoma vaccine have already begun and humans have already received their first dose. The company behind this vaccine hopes that they may be able to target other cancers with mRNA vaccines in the future.

See also:

Related post: mRNA Vaccines Seem to Greatly Prevent Symptom-Less COVID-19 Transmission (Mar 22 2021)

More about the inception of MRNA vaccines, and the people behind them, from The New York Times.

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