If there’s one glimmer of hope from this covid-ravished year of gloom, then it’s the advances made in RNA research used to create the vaccines. But is it possible that the vaccine discovery might only be the start of the benefits provided by this research? Could it also unlock new treatments for cancer?
Talking with Tim Harford on How to Vaccine the World on Radio 4 this week (21st December – catch the whole programme on BBC Sounds), Dr Anna Blakney, bioengineer at Imperial College, London, raised this possibility for the future …
“… instead of having a treatment for cancer that’s based on a chemotherapy or antibody treatment you can make a personalised vaccine where the person’s cancer cells have a certain protein on the surface of them and then you just encode that protein in RNA to attack those cells and hopefully kill the cancer … it really opens up possibilities for many other diseases …”
Imagine that? You get cancer and your treatment consists of your personal immune cells being trained to fight the individual cancer – and all perfectly feasible as a result of this covid vaccine research. How brilliant is that! Now look at the death figures. In the UK this year, approximately 80,000 death certificates were issued which mentioned covid-19 as a contributing factor but, in an average year, around 165,000 people in the UK would be expected to die from cancer. Maybe – just maybe – there’s a silver lining to this horrible year.
Happy Christmas from How To Survive Your Police Career. Stay safe and be lucky.