Moderna Therapeutics has began taking the steps to produce a cancer vaccine based on the growing volume of research on messenger RNA (mRNA). 

According to Futurism, the company is carrying out a study looking into the treatment’s effectiveness, administering the vaccine to its first hum subject. The company are taking full advantage of the falling price of genome sequencing, when it comes to the vaccine. 

They took a 1-millimeter cube of cancer tissue taken from the lung of the subject of the trial. Its genetic code was scanned and compared to a blood sample, which helped track down the changes that caused the cancer. 

The information was then used to produce a list of 20 protein targets that were tailored to the patient’s cancer. Scientists constructed DNA templates to make the necessary edits, then transcribed them into RNA that would be administered via an injection. 

Howard Burris, MD, and principal investigator of the study, said, “An individualised medicine designed to help each patient’s immune system better recognise cancer as foreign and attack it would be a critical addition to oncologists’ treatment arsenal, potentially helping many more patients respond more effectively to treatment.”

Although the idea of a cancer vaccine isn’t particularly new, its the capacity to produce treatments that are customised to a particular patient’s needs that is. 

It is worth noting however, there are some limitations. One thing to mention is cost, it is likely that it will be very expensive. Moderna has not yet revealed what it expects to charge for the vaccine. 

In addition, the company has also been subject to some criticism for an over-reliance on mRNA. Where they specialise in using the molecules, which have shown to have significant potential, and the fact is the technology is unproven. 

Up to 90 patients are expected to take part in the trial, which will yield initial results by the end of 2018.