What does the COVID-19 vaccine have in common with cancer research? More than many of us may realize.
Many vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine make use of mRNA, a type of genetic material. This material essentially has a recipe, and, when put into our body, can instruct cells to do certain things. When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccine, it basically instructs some cells to develop the spike-like proteins that give COVID-19 its distinct shape. Our own immune system then recognizes those spiked cells as foreign and develops the tools needed to fight them off, making our bodies more likely to resist a COVID-19 exposure or at least develop a less serious infection in the event one occurs.
What does the COVID-19 vaccine have to do with cancer research?
Some have expressed concerns that scientists developed the COVID-19 vaccine too quickly. In reality, however, scientists have been working on this research for decades. Medical experts explain that similar technology can be used to encourage our bodies to create what are known as “cytotoxic T-cell responses” — the tools that our bodies use to kill cancer cells. Scientists are currently working on a treatment that would essentially train our bodies to look for and kill malignant cells to ultimately fight cancer.
Although promising, scientists note that there are some hurdles to clear before this treatment can move forward. Most notably, the cells our bodies use to fight cancers are pretty unique. Each person’s is a little different. As a result, this treatment simply cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Scientists are still researching the process and ironing out how to make it most beneficial for patients, but they recognize that the progress is promising. They are very hopeful that this method could provide beneficial treatments in the future.
How can this help veterans, construction workers, manufacturers and others exposed to asbestos?
We know asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma and other aggressive cancers. We also know that over 27 million industrial employees and countless military members and other workers were exposed to carcinogenic chemicals on the job, including asbestos. Exposure to these chemicals increases the risk of mesothelioma and other cancers.
What is truly frustrating is the fact that asbestos producers were aware of the dangers back in the 1930s but withheld this information from workers. As a result, many producers and employers knowingly exposed their workers to these dangerous materials for decades.
Thankfully, there are legal remedies. Workers who have developed asbestos-related medical conditions can often hold producers and employers accountable through a civil suit. This can lead to compensation that helps cover the costs of treatment and care.