A study on mice carried out by the biotechnology company Biontech has shown that locally injected mRNA agents are extremely effective in the treatment of cancer, reports “Bild”.
The study results, which were published in the journal “Science Translational Medicine”, showed a clear growth arrest after the injection, in many cases even a decrease in intestinal and skin tumors in mice.
There are currently 15 active ingredients in clinical trials for the treatment of cancer. It is tested whether the results can be transferred to humans.
Biontech CEO Uğur Şahin and co-founder Özlem Türeci call themselves the “immune whisperers”. She and her company became known worldwide with their vaccine against the coronavirus. However, the biotechnology company originally specialized in the development and manufacture of immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and other serious diseases. Even during the corona pandemic, the company continued to research its treatment options for cancer patients – with success. A study initially carried out on mice showed that patient-specific, local injections with mRNA agents can lead to the regression of tumors, as reported by “Bild”.
Şahin and Türeci assume that cancer requires a patient-specific approach in order to be able to fight tumors in the long term. Because every tumor is unique and has a specific profile. This usually makes it difficult to treat. However, the Biontech CEO saw this as an opportunity. Şahin and his team saw great potential in making the individual image of each tumor to their advantage. “The aim was to enable the patient’s immune system to localize the specific cancer cells, to address them and to attack the tumor,” said the Biontech CEO according to “Bild”. Similar to the corona vaccine, the researchers at Biontech assume that with an injection of an mRNA technology adapted to the disease, the immune system can learn to defend itself against cancer cells or other pathogens.
The principle is similar to that of the corona vaccine
As part of the study, which was carried out in 2019, the mRNA active ingredient “BNT131” was injected locally into intestinal and skin tumors in mice. The active ingredients contain building instructions (mRNAs) for proteins that have been adapted to the disease. As soon as they are injected, the cells replicate the substances. The principle is very similar to that of Biontech’s corona vaccine.
In the case of cancer treatment, it is so-called cycotins that are supposed to activate the formation of immune cells in the tumor. If these defense cells are formed, the tumor fights itself from within. The result of the study on mice: In many cases, this actually stopped the growth of the tumors. In the majority of the animals, tumor regression could even be recorded. In a few cases, it was also found that more distant tumors, including those in the lungs, also regressed after the injection of the mRNA active ingredient. The results have now been published for the first time in the renowned journal “Science Translational Medicine”.
Biontech chief physician Özlem Türeci said, according to “Bild”, there are currently a total of 15 active ingredients against various types of cancer in clinical trials. The encouraging data from the study would have prompted the study to be extended to treatment for humans. First of all, the method is currently being tested on a very small group of people – to ensure that the specially adapted mRNA active ingredients do not cause any dangerous side effects in the human body. If this is not the case, the active ingredients could then be tested on larger groups of people in a timely manner. Active substances against colon and skin cancer are currently being tested.