A New Chapter for mRNA Based Therapies
The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the healthcare landscape, but some changes may have been for the better. The success of mRNA vaccines, such as Comirnaty and Spikevax, has rapidly advanced our understanding of how these products can be used in clinical practice. With the development of more efficient delivery vehicles and mRNA modifications these therapies are at the cutting edge of several therapeutic areas.
BioNTech, who co-developed the Comirnaty vaccine with Pfizer, has initiated several clinical trials using mRNA vaccines for treatment of solid tumors. Results presented at the most recent American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Conference show promising results of the mRNA vaccine CARVac in combination with CAR T therapies, demonstrating durable responses in patients with several different tumour types. Clinical trials have also been initiated for another BioNTech mRNA cancer vaccine in combination with cemiplimab for treatment of melanoma.
While it was previously thought to be impossible to stimulate cardiac tissue regeneration, mRNA-based therapies are being investigated in patients with heart failure to improve angiogenesis and cardiac tissue proliferation. Recent results from the EPICCURE trial demonstrated improved ejection fraction and tolerability in patients treated with a vascular epidermal growth factor-based mRNA therapy, with an expanded clinical trial program underway.
While these therapies may be in their infancy, we can hopefully look to the medical innovations spurred by this crisis and use these learnings to help further modern medicine.