Messenger RNA technology could be used to treat cancer and HIV

Scientists at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center are studying mRNA as a treatment for cancer, informs Insider.

The coronavirus pandemic prompted scientists to create a first vaccine that uses mRNA or a small piece of Covid-19 virus’s Spike surface protein. The mechanism of the vaccine creates a response of the immune system to protect against infection.

Following the effective results of clinical trials and millions of successful vaccinations with COVID-19 mRNA-based vaccines, researchers are now looking at how vaccine technology could treat other diseases.

They believe the mRNA could be used to prevent the recurrence of cancer, said Dr. Van Morris, the oncologist leading the clinical trial.

The likelihood of recurrence of cancer varies by type of cancer and is most common in ovarian cancer, bladder cancer and glioblastoma. Recurrence occurs when small amounts of cancer cells remain in the body after treatment, multiply and, in some cases, move to other areas of the body.

In the study, which is currently in its second phase, doctors are testing cancer patients whose tumors have been removed and undergone chemotherapy. Once tests reveal cancer cells still circulating in their bodies, researchers create individualized mRNA vaccines.

“We hope that with the personalized vaccine we can improve the immune system to eliminate residual tumor cells and heal the patient.”, Morris said.

Scientists at Scripps University in California are also examining whether mRNA could treat HIV, a predominantly sexually transmitted infection that affects 1.2 million people worldwide.

Conform CDC, HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body’s immune system. If left untreated, HIV can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
The HIV virus is transmitted through blood, semen, genital secretions, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), mother-to-child transmission and breast milk. The most common routes of transmission are vaginal, anal, and syringe needles.

“How COVID-19 Vaccine Works May Also Be Used for HIV Vaccine” William Schief, an immunologist at Scripps Research who contributed to the development of the HIV vaccine in a phase 1 study, said in a press release.

Now that Schief’s team knows that mRNA could be used to treat HIV, they will use the technology in future studies, hoping to create a vaccine against the disease soon.

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