COVID-19 Learning May Pave the Way for an Explosion in New Vaccines, From Cancer to Cardiovascular Disease


Researchers say a vaccine for cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases may be coming soon. Photo: Jelena Stanojkovic/Getty Images

Longevity may be the most important trend we’ve ever experienced. It’s driven by — and in turn, it affects — everything from health to housing, money to technology, lifestyle to social policy. There’s so much to be aware of — and it’s just getting started! Now you can keep up with all the latest developments in this weekly column.

The chief medical officer of Moderna predicts vaccines for cancer, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases could be ready as early as 2030.

As reported here, the research work done to develop the COVID vaccines has effectively compressed 15 years’ worth of learning into 12 to 18 months. And now that knowledge is being applied to many other diseases and conditions.

The article quotes Dr. Paul Burton: “I think what we have learned in recent months is that if you ever thought that mRNA was just for infectious diseases, or just for COVID, the evidence now is that that’s absolutely not the case.

“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.”

In the case of cancer, Burton says, “We will have that vaccine and it will be highly effective, and it will save many hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. I think we will be able to offer personalized cancer vaccines against multiple different tumor types to people around the world.”

As the article explains, mRNA therapies “teach” cells how to make a protein that triggers the body’s immune response against a particular disease. The article includes a detail description of how all this is accomplished, and I urge you to read it.

The money quote from Burton:

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

Burton isn’t just offering an opinion; his views are reflected in a flurry of activity. Moderna has two vaccines, one for RSV (a common respiratory virus) and one for skin cancer melanoma, that have been granted “breakthrough therapy designation” by the FDA, meaning regulatory review will be expedited.

And a spokesman for Pfizer said: “The learnings from the COVID-19 vaccine development process have informed our overall approach to mRNA research and development, and how Pfizer conducts R&D (research and development) more broadly. We gained a decade’s worth of scientific knowledge in just one year.”

There’s no question this is a breathtaking development with staggering implications for health and longevity. You can be sure I’ll be reporting on this constantly!

David Cravit is a Vice-President at ZoomerMedia, and Chief Membership Officer of CARP. He is also the author of two books on the “reinvention” of aging. You can check out some of his other writing here.