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A vaccine for cancer may be available by the end of the decade, according to the co-founder of the company that helped develop the COVID-19 vaccine.

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“We feel that a cure for cancer or to changing cancer patients’ lives is in our grasp,” Ozlem Tureci told BBC News.

Tureci, along with her husband, Ugur Sahin, cofounded BioNTech, the German pharmaceutical company that teamed with Pfizer to develop memory RNA technology to create a COVID-19 vaccine.

Originally, the couple developed and produce treatments for cancer immunotherapy using mRNA technology, but set aside that research when the pandemic began.

“What we have developed over decades for cancer vaccine development has been the tailwind for developing the COVID-19 vaccine, and now the COVID-19 vaccine and our experience in developing it gives back to our cancer work,” Tureci said.

Tureci explained that mRNA technology could lead to a cancer vaccine because “mRNA acts as a blueprint and allows you to tell the body to produce the drug or the vaccine … and when you use mRNA as a vaccine, the mRNA is a blueprint for the ‘wanted poster’ of the enemy — in this case, cancer antigens (proteins that stud the surfaces of tumor cells) which distinguish cancer cells from normal cells.”

According to the couple, a cancer vaccine would need to be specific for each person, and developing vaccines that target proteins associated with cancer can be difficult since tumors can have many proteins on their surfaces.

BioNTech hopes to develop treatments for bowel cancer, melanoma and other cancer types, the couple told the BBC.

“Every step, every patient we treat in our cancer trials helps us to find out more about what we are against and how to address that,” Tureci said.

Tureci said that she is optimistic about a vaccine aimed at cancer, but “We are always hesitant to say we will have a cure for cancer. We have a number of breakthroughs and we will continue to work on them.”