Several our recent articles have focused on the role of vaccination in cancer therapies. Initially we considered some of the current options, followed by reports of a positive study from Tufts University. We also explored some of the key players in President Joe Biden’s Cancer Moonshot programme. Finally, we have investigated cervical and prostate cancer therapies. Recently, in the October 2022 issue of The Lancet Oncology, a European study reflects the current landscape.  

Why mRNA vaccines? 

The authors begin by acknowledging the “worldwide focus” on mRNA, directed by the development and production of vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this progress relied on years of research and development of mRNA for cancer therapies. The introduction sets out the benefits of mRNA in vaccine settings. 

Benefit  Explanation 
mRNA vaccines are well tolerated   “Adverse events are generally manageable and transient” 
No genome integration  “Eliminates the risk of insertional mutagenesis” 
Non-infectious  “No pathogenic viral agents are used” 
Easily degraded  “Reduces risk of toxicity” 
Humoral and cellular immunity  “Necessary for activating and sustaining anti-tumour responses” 
Fast and inexpensive to produce  “Laboratory-based and cell-free production” 



The authors state that “the clinical efficacy and immunogenicity of mRNA vaccines” have been “evaluated across cancer diagnoses and administration methods”. These vaccines are “promising therapeutic candidates”, particularly in combination therapies. Despite this, they report that at the time of publication no Phase III studies were ongoing, and the FDA had not yet approved any candidates. Thus, the paper explores the landscape of therapeutic mRNA-based cancer vaccines. 

“The aim of mRNA-based vaccination is to induce or boost an effective anti-tumour immune response.” 

The article explores the variety of mRNA options at different clinical stages and concludes with the anticipation of further development.  

“with the optimisation of mRNA vaccine structure, stability, and delivery methods, and with the associated advantages of personalised preparations, low manufacturing costs, and the fast and scalable production required for a patient group that often experiences rapid disease progression, mRNA vaccines are reaching their potential as a future crucial strategy for cancer treatment.” 

To participate in a day of discussion on immuno-oncology profiling at the World Vaccine Congress in Europe 2022 get your tickets here.