With the help of mRNA technology, BioNTech has developed a vaccine for COVID-19. These assist the body to produce its own antigens to fight the virus – a medical milestone.
Since the beginning of the 21st century, scientists Uğur Şahin und Özlem Türeci have pursued the goal of creating cancer treatments that are specific to individuals. The firm they established, BioNTech, focuses heavily on revolutionary mRNA technology.
The “M” in mRNA means ‘messenger and RNA stands for ribonucleic acid. MRNA delivers information for antigen production directly to the cell which produces proteins. Afterwards, these cells present self-produced antigens on their outer shells and trigger a specifically desired immune response.
Şahin and Türeci came up with the idea of using mRNA technology for vaccines in January 2020 after reading about a virus recently identified in Wuhan, China. Within hours, BioNTech decided to launch its search for a viable vaccine. The initial steps required lots of money and nerves of steel. The founders of pharmaceutical giant Hexal, brothers Andreas and Thomas Strünmann, were among the first financial backers.
BioNTech received hundreds of millions in funding and the search for a vaccine began. But many questions remained unresolved. In the end, persistence paid off. A Partnership with Pharma Giant Pfizer sped up the testing phase and the Comirnaty Con-centrate was approved. Its efficacy proven, millions around the world have been vaccinated with it.
But what does the future look like for cancer research? And can mRNA technology aid in the fight against Malaria? The documentary shows what a wide-ranging affect this startup company in Mainz, Germany is having on global health. Film maker Michael Schindhelm has gained the opportunity to take a closer look at this revolutionary company.
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