Expert discusses mRNA cancer vaccine trials
Chief medical officer Dr Paul Burton explained how advances in RNA technology could lead to a golden age for new vaccines. Dr Burton said: “If you ever thought that mRNA was just for infectious diseases, or just for Covid, the evidence now is 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, [and] rare disease.”
Studies have shown “tremendous promise” when it comes to jabs in these disease areas.
Dr Burton’s comments to The Guardian on Saturday, April 8 come as Moderna navigates its post-pandemic boom driven by its successful mRNA Covid vaccine.
Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology teaches human cells to produce a protein that then initiates an immune cell response against a specific disease.
Heart disease prevention
The NHS focuses on lifestyle tips to reduce your risk of developing heart disease.
Steps involve a healthy diet, frequent exercise, an ideal weight, and keeping any other health conditions under control.
In everyday life, health-boosting habits might be more difficult to lean into for some.
If you already have heart disease, for example, effective management may involve medicine in addition to healthier lifestyle choices.
“With the right treatment, the symptoms of CHD [coronary heart disease] can be reduced and the functioning of the heart improved,” the NHS says.
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Those who have heart disease might be prescribed blood-thinning medication, such as clopidogrel or rivaroxaban.
Blood thinners help to prevent blood clots and thereby lower the risk of a heart attack.
Some people might be prescribed cholesterol-lowering medicine called statins, such as atorvastatin or simvastatin.
The NHS explains: “Statins work by blocking the formation of cholesterol and increasing the number of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptors in the liver.
“This helps remove LDL cholesterol from your blood, which makes a heart attack less likely.
“Not all statins are suitable for everyone, so you may need to try several different types until you find one that’s suitable.”
Then there are beta blockers, such as metoprolol, that are often used to prevent angina and to treat high blood pressure.
The NHS says: “They work by blocking the effects of a particular hormone in the body, which slows down your heartbeat and improves blood flow.”
And nitrates can be used to “widen your blood vessels”, also known as vasodilators.
Dr Burton said: “I think we will have mRNA-based therapies for rare diseases that were previously undruggable.
“And 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.”
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