Reuters - Video

Edition: US | UK | IN | CN | JP

Tech Videos

Programmable vaccines to protect against Zika and fight cancer

Monday, August 01, 2016 - 02:00

Researchers are developing vaccines that can be produced in one week, allowing for potentially unprecedented response to disease outbreaks. The messenger RNA-based vaccines can be programmed to protect against a range of diseases and potentially prove a breakthrough tool in the fight against cancer. Ben Gruber reports.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

STORY: The Zika Virus outbreak is front and center, with the start of the Olympic Games in Brazil just days away. Researchers around the world are attempting produce a vaccine, but making vaccines currently takes months or years. In this lab at MIT, a team of researchers has developed a Zika vaccine -- in just seven days. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. OMAR KAHN, CHEMICAL ENGINEER, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "So things like, for example, Zika or the recent Ebola outbreak. We can rapidly respond to that within seven days. So when there is an extraordinary need and you need something that is safe then we have the ability to make that happen." …So far they can make that happen in mice. Testing in humans and regulatory approval mean these new types of vaccines could take years to hit the market. The scientists are using messenger RNA, a genetic material that produces proteins in cells that provoke an immune response. These new vaccines can be designed to code for many types of diseases. This technique proved 100 percent effective in mice with Ebola and H1N1 Flu. The researchers packaged the RNA vaccines into molecules that they can mold the shape and charge of, allowing them to enter cells in much the same way viruses do. Vaccines can be used to both prevent and treat disease. The scientists are also looking into how else to utilize this technology. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DANIEL ANDERSON, PROFESSOR OF APPLIED BIOLOGY & ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF CHEMICAL ENGINEERING, MASSACHUSETTS INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "We are very interested to see if these vaccines could be used to treat people with cancer or even for people that may be at risk for certain specific types of cancers, maybe you can give them a vaccine so that just wouldn't get cancer later in their life." The scientists are starting a company to license and commercialize the technology. The hope is to offer a new way to fight the next outbreak before it becomes one.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

Programmable vaccines to protect against Zika and fight cancer

Monday, August 01, 2016 - 02:00