BioNTech to deliver prestigious lecture on mRNA  

Pharmaceutical company BioNTech will deliver the 2022 César Milstein Lecture on 26 July with a focus on how messenger RNA (mRNA) technology can be used within vaccines for cancer and Covid-19.  

The lecture will be delivered in two halves by Uğur Şahin and Özlem Türeci, co-founders of BioNtech.  

The first half of the lecture, titled ‘mRNA Cancer Vaccines’ will be delivered by Uğur Şahin and will provide an overview on the scientific groundwork, key discoveries, inventions, and technological solutions that have paved the development and clinical application of highly potent, personalised mRNA cancer vaccines. 

The second half of the talk is titled ‘Project Lightspeed – The discovery of the first Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine,’ and will highlight BioNTech’s work in developing a Covid-19 vaccine in an expedited timeframe. The talk will cover the technology behind the vaccine and the mechanisms of antibody and T cell immune responses triggered by the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine. 

The César Milstein Lecture is named in honour of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) LMB Nobel Laureate César Milstein. The lecture is one of a series of named lectures, organised by the LMB and given by eminent scientists from around the world. 

The lecture will be hybrid: held in person in LMB’s Max Perutz Lecture Theatre and on Zoom, and is open to all who are interested. 

See the full lecture synopsis below 

Lecture – mRNA Cancer vaccines 10:00AM (BST)  

Lecture abstract: 

The purpose of a therapeutic cancer vaccine is to instruct the patient’s immune system to recognise and eliminate cancer cells. The origins of using mRNA for delivery of cancer vaccines date back to the 1990s. However, early attempts were hampered by low vaccine potency and lack of clinical activity due to various biological and technological challenges. This talk will provide an overview on the scientific groundwork, key discoveries, inventions, and technological solutions that have paved the development and clinical application of highly potent, personalised mRNA cancer vaccines, a novel approach that for the first time allows a treatment to be individually tailored to the complex genetic profile of a patient’s tumour. 

Lecture – Project Lightspeed – The discovery of the first Covid-19 mRNA Vaccine 11:30AM (BST)  

Lecture abstract: 

With the outbreak of the SARS CoV-2 pandemic in January 2020, we launched Project Lightspeed with the goal of developing a safe and effective mRNA vaccine in the shortest possible time without skipping the steps of regular vaccine development.  The talk will cover the research and the findings that led to the discovery, development, and licensure of the first Covid-19 vaccine within 10 months after project initiation. The talk will provide immunological insights into the mechanisms of antibody and T cell immune responses triggered by the Covid-19 mRNA vaccine, into the mode of action of vaccine boosters, and report on research on Omicron-adapted vaccines. The lecture will conclude with our technological approach to establish mRNA production in other regions and democratise global access to innovative medicines. 

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