Cancer, one of the deadliest diseases in the world, takes the lives of millions each year. There have been many treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and others. Yet, the disease still persists, and people fear the very word “cancer.” In the past year, one potential treatment, from a surprising source, was researched: mRNA vaccines. 
mRNA vaccines, or messenger RNA vaccines, are currently the most common type of COVID-19 treatment. Unlike many other vaccine classes, mRNA vaccines do not actually contain live viruses; they teach our cells to generate spike proteins that are present on the COVID-19 virus to display on their surfaces. This allows the body to recognize the spike protein from COVID-19 virus and produce an immune response against it. 
So how do COVID-19 mRNA vaccines combat cancer? These vaccines, manufactured by German pharmaceutical BioNTech, work similarly to COVID-19 mRNA vaccines; they teach our cells to generate proteins on the surfaces of tumor cells, allowing our immune systems to learn to recognize these proteins and generate antibodies or T cells to destroy the tumor cells.  There are 2 main delivery strategies as of now: direct injection and injecting tumor antigens on dendritic cells (the immune cells that present antigens). 
What makes these vaccines more effective than other cancer treatments? The main difference between mRNA cancer vaccines and other cancer therapies is that the mRNA vaccines, by using proteins unique to the patient’s tumors, actually train the body’s immune system to fight against the specific type of cancer, allowing for the treatment to be more personalized and detailed. [1, 3] mRNA cancer vaccines are also fast to manufacture, taking only days to develop new vaccines. 
The future of mRNA cancer vaccines is certainly bright, and we should all be excited for the breakthroughs that this novel treatment will break in cancer therapy!