Did Elon Musk Just Put His Skepticism Behind And Warm Up To mRNA Tech That Powers Most COVID-19 Vaccines?

Zinger Key Points
  • Pfizer, one of the proponents of the new-age vaccines has chosen to use an alternative tech to tackle cancer.
  • This elicited a surprising reaction from Tesla's Elon Musk, who has previously appeared ambivalent about COVID-19 vaccines.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been a skeptic of the COVID-19 vaccines and highly critical of Dr. Anthony Fauci, who in his previous capacity as the director of the National Institute of Allergy And Infectious Diseases, spearheaded the vaccine drive against the pandemic.

It came as a surprise that the billionaire would throw his weight behind the new-age vaccines as a potential cure for cancer.

What Happened: Synthetic mRNA has “great potential” to cure cancer, Musk said on Twitter late on Monday. His comments came in response to a video of a CNBC interview with Pfizer Inc. PFE CEO Albert Bourla, shared by one of his followers.

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Bourla appeared on CNBC in connection with Pfizer’s deal to buy Seagen Inc. SGEN, a precision oncology biotech, for $43 billion. While outlining the merits of the proposed deal, the pharma executive said Seagen’s cancer therapeutics are based on the antibody-conjugate, or ADC, technology. ADCs are “turbo-charged guided missiles” that can attack cancer cells and make a big difference, he added.

“I would say this is something like the mRNAs for vaccines, it is ADCs for cancer,” Bourla said.

Why It’s Important: It isn’t clear whether in earnest Musk meant Pfizer could have used the mRNA technology that powered the COVID-19 vaccine it co-developed with Germany’s BioNTech SE BNTX for its fight against cancer.

Incidentally, Moderna Inc. MRNA, Pfizer’s rival in the COVID-19 vaccine race, is developing a cancer vaccine along with Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, combining the former’s nRNA vaccine, codenamed mRNA-4157, and the latter’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda.

In December, the two companies announced positive Phase 2b results for the investigational personalized combo therapy.

ADCs, meanwhile, are targeted medicines that deliver chemotherapy agents through a linker attached to a monoclonal antibody that binds to a specific target expressed on cancer cells. Once these bind to the target cells, they would release the cytotoxic cells into the cancer cells, which kills them without impacting the surrounding healthy cells.

Musk’s comment could also be construed as taking a potshot at Pfizer for not falling back on the mRNA technology for treating cancers and preferring another technology instead.

Read Next: Elon Musk Comes In Support Of COVID-19 Vaccines After Earlier Comments Courted Controversy

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