Vaccines for cancer and heart disease on the way, Moderna claims

A pharmaceutical giant says vaccines for cancer, heart conditions and auto-immune diseases will be available “by the end of the decade”.

The company behind one of the major COVID vaccines, Moderna, says it is confident it will be able to manufacture vaccines targeting cancer, cardiovascular disease and certain auto-immune conditions by 2030, and possibly even sooner.

Speaking to The Guardian, Moderna chief medical officer Dr Paul Burton said he believes his firm will soon be able to offer treatments for “all sorts of disease areas” in the future.

He says the gene-altering mRNA-based technology that has been so successful in COVID vaccines can be applied to other conditions, offering treatment avenues that were previously not possible.

“I think we will have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that were previously undruggable,” he said.

“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.”

Dr Burton says the same technology can be used in cancer vaccines, which can be tailored to target specific tumour types.

“We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives,” he said.

“I think we will be able to offer personalised cancer vaccines against multiple different tumour types to people around the world.”

An mRNA-based cancer vaccine would work by instructing cancer cells to make certain types of proteins that can then be identified, and attacked, by your immune system without destroying healthy cells.

However, these proteins will be different for everybody and for different cancers, so doctors would first need to take a biopsy of the tumour and send it to a lab for genetic sequencing.

From there, a machine-learning algorithm analyses the genetic sequence to find the proteins driving the cancer growth. The algorithm can also learn which cancer proteins are most likely to trigger an immune response.

Using this information, a personalised vaccine can be manufactured for an individual.

Dr Burton says the accelerated emergence of mRNA-based therapies was one of the silver linings of the COVID pandemic.

“I think what we have learnt in recent months is that if you ever thought mRNA was just for infectious diseases, or just for COVID, the evidence now is that that’s absolutely not the case,” he said.

“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.”

Would you trust a vaccine for cancer? Or are we rushing our use of mRNA-based medicines? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyer
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Absolutely. Can’t come fast enough. I have lost several friends recently and have a couple more just been diagnosed. What a terrible scouge cancer is and to see people have the chance to beat it is WONDERFUL news. Unfortunately it will come too late for some.

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