Jeff Bezos' Amazon is developing vaccines for breast and skin cancer

The trials are still in phase 1.
Loukia Papadopoulos
Amazon warehouseBrett_Hondow/iStock

Amazon has been quietly developing cancer vaccines in partnership with the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, according to a report published on Monday by Business Insider. The vaccines would tackle breast and skin cancer, also known as melanoma.

A personalized treatment for certain forms of cancer 

According to a summary posted on Clinicaltrials.gov, the study start date was June 9, 2022 and its estimated completion date is November 1, 2023. The Phase 1 stage trial is now looking for 20 total patients over the age of 18 to test a "US FDA-regulated Drug Product."

The study was confirmed by an Amazon representative.

"Amazon is contributing scientific and machine learning expertise to a partnership with Fred Hutch to explore the development of a personalized treatment for certain forms of cancer. It's very early, but Fred Hutch recently received permission from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to proceed with a Phase I clinical trial, and it's unclear whether it will be successful," Amazon's spokesperson told Business Insider in an email.

"This will be a long, multi-year process—should it progress, we would be open to working with other organizations in health care and life sciences that might also be interested in similar efforts."

The summary describes the trial as follows: "This phase I trial studies the safety of personalized neo-antigen peptide vaccine in treating patients with stage IIIC-IV melanoma or hormone receptor positive Her2 negative breast cancer that has spread to other places in the body (metastatic) or does not respond to treatment (refractory). Personalized neo-antigen peptide vaccine is a product that combines multiple patient specific neo-antigens. Given personalized neo-antigen peptide vaccine together with Th1 polarizing adjuvant poly ICLC may induce a polyclonal, poly-epitope, cytolytic T cell immunity against the patient's tumor."

Venturing into the healthcare sector 

Amazon has ventured into the healthcare sector before. In June of 2021, the firm launched Amazon Care offering Seattle-based employees medical assistance from home such as virtual video chats with doctors, having medicine delivered to your door or your preferred pharmacy, and care chat via messenger. 

This latest vaccine treatment is said to have come out of Amazon's secretive moonshot lab called Grand Challenge. Amazon's cancer team has allegedly progressed so much that it was able to "graduate" from the Grand Challenge unit in order to function under the supervision of VP of devices Robert Williams, people familiar with the matter told Business Insider under the condition of anonymity.

What does this mean for Amazon? It means that the already all-encompassing company may add a new service under its belt: cancer treatment. If it is successful in doing so the financial benefits it will reap will be substantial.

The question now becomes whether or not we want a multinational technology company tackling one of the most severe and deadly diseases out there. Aren't cancer treatments best left to the doctors and other healthcare professionals? Time will tell how these vaccines and this initiative will perform. 

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