Life Sciences News – A Cancer Virus & Universal Flu Vaccine

posted by ALLpaQ Packaging

January, 19th, 2023

Pharmaceutical Industry News

There is always something new to report in the life sciences. This really is a constantly evolving and pioneering sector of the pharma industry.

That being so, we thought it was a good time to round up some of the more promising news stories – to indicate the direction of travel in the pharmaceutical sector at the moment.

Here are a few of the recent pioneering discoveries from the sharp end of pharmaceutical R&D.

RP2 – The Cancer-Killing Virus

Ordinarily, you wouldn’t want to read the words ‘cancer’ and ‘virus’ in the same sentence. It sounds like the synopsis for a disturbing horror film.

But recent trials have taken place for a revolutionary new type of cancer therapy. This uses a genetically-engineered form of the cold sore virus, herpes simplex, to infect and destroy cancer cells.

As reported by ICR (The Institute of Cancer Research), the lead scientist on this study was Prof. Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The ICR, London, and Consultant Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust – he said:

“Our study shows that a genetically engineered, cancer-killing virus can deliver a one-two punch against tumours – directly destroying cancer cells from within while also calling in the immune system against them.”

Prof. Harrington also noted that it is rare to see such good response rates in early-stage clinical trials.

This isn’t the first time Prof. Harrington has exploited the features of viruses that make them so difficult to tackle in other fields, as a weapon against cancer. He helped develop a virus-based therapy called T-Vec, back in 2015, which used the same principle to attack skin cancers.

It’s early days and there is still a lot more testing and development to do. Still, the results for this injection are promising, particularly because it seems to be especially effective on advanced cancers which have failed to respond to a range of other immunotherapies.

As Forbes recently reported: Excitement around this innovation is such that the German Covid vaccine manufacturer, BioNTech, has signed an understanding with the British government to begin trials as early as September this year. Up to 10,000 cancer patients across the UK could be treated with these personalized mRNA cancer treatments by 2030.

Artificial ‘Life’ Will Find a Way


Another project at the earliest stages of development is underway at Cornell University, where they are creating artificial life-like materials.

They are careful to point out that they aren’t creating life – no organic materials are being used – but rather, they are imbuing materials with lifelike qualities.

Most materials are static and unchanging, explains project lead Dan Luo, whereas living organisms are active and always changing. His goal is to create artificial materials that have those life-like qualities.

This video illustrates very clearly what he and his team have done. They have identified three key traits of life-like-ness:

  • Metabolism (to generate new cells and eliminate old ones)
  • Self-assembly (an autonomous process of growth and decay)
  • Organisation (to manage change)

They have made machines from biomaterials that have these characteristics.

A living metabolism must employ a series of chemical processes to convert fuel (in the form of food in living organisms) into energy to generate new cells and survive. The team at Cornell managed to programme their material with the instructions needed for metabolism and autonomous regeneration, allowing it to grow independently.

They have named their process DASH, which stands for “DNA-based Assembly and Synthesis of Hierarchical” materials.

This is a huge leap forward in the development of nanotechnology. This technology could be employed to detect the presence of DNA and RNA, in the future. It could also, potentially, be used in the production of proteins without living cells.

Can it be long before we achieve Star Trek’s vision of medical nanites labouring in our bodies to eliminate diseases in situ?

Universal Flu Vaccine

antibodies atttacking a virus

Scientists have made a fantastic breakthrough in the battle against flu. They have done this employing skills and technology they developed in the world-changing race to develop COVID-19 vaccines.

A team from the Department of Microbiology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania has led this pioneering work. They reported to that they have successfully developed a vaccine capable of defending people against all twenty known types of influenza A and B viruses.

This vaccine uses the same mRNA technology as was successfully deployed against COVID.

It is difficult to vaccinate against flu because it mutates so frequently. Doctors make educated guesses over which strains will be prevalent in the coming year since the annual ‘jab’ only protects against a handful of the possible variants.

Look at this article for our simplified explanation of how vaccines work.

The new ‘Universal’ vaccine contains antigens for all the known variants. These antigens teach our immune system to defend itself against all known strains. The same antigens could seriously impact any new strains that might evolve and threaten to become a pandemic.

Science fiction writers and futurologists have long predicted that a pandemic is only a matter of time – their concerns are now shared far more widely, for fairly obvious reasons.

A universal flu vaccine would be a game-changing weapon in the arsenal we employ to defend the world against the danger of pandemic.

This development isn’t promising a world without flu nor, indeed, a world without annual flu jabs – but it could lead to a time when flu ceases to cost so many lives and impact the economy through so much sick leave.

How can ALLpaQ help your life sciences?

If your business is one of those working at the cutting edge of R&D, how can we help make your workflow more efficient? ALLpaQ are the specialists in fluid management and supply chain optimisation. Get in touch and let’s see how we can change your life (sciences) while you’re changing the world!

TAGS: Bioprocess News, life sciences, science, vaccines,


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ALLpaQ is the market leader in the design of innovative pharma containers and fluid management solutions.

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