FAST-TRACKED FOR DEVELOPMENT AND REVIEW
Overseas, Moderna and Merck’s mRNA cancer vaccine was fast-tracked for review by the US FDA in February. Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration has not approved the use of mRNAs for use either alone or with other cancer treatments yet.
In January, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service partnered with BioNTech to fast-track the development of mRNA cancer vaccines over the next seven years. Eligible UK cancer patients will get early access to clinical trials from late 2023 onwards. By 2030, these mRNA vaccines will be made clinically available to around 10,000 cancer patients.
In Australia, BioNTech is establishing its Asia-Pacific mRNA clinical research and development centre in Melbourne, in partnership with the Victorian government. This would develop mRNA vaccines for research and clinical trials, including personalised cancer treatments.
Meanwhile, Moderna will develop Australia’s first large-scale mRNA vaccine facility at Monash University by 2024, in partnership with the state and federal government. This will give Australians priority access to mRNA vaccines made locally.
WHAT ELSE COULD THE TECHNOLOGY BE USED FOR?
Aside from cancer, there is huge potential to use mRNA technologies across many gene therapies.
There are studies under way testing mRNA vaccines for various diseases such as evolving COVID-19 strains, seasonal influenza, malaria, HIV, cystic fibrosis and even allergies, giving new hope for many previously incurable diseases.
Sathana Dushyanthen is Academic Specialist & Lecturer in Cancer Sciences & Digital Health, The University of Melbourne. This commentary first appeared in The Conversation.