Bezos Working to Develop ‘Cancer Vaccine’

Online retail giant Amazon has leapt into an entirely different endeavor — developing a vaccine for cancer along with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

This is hardly a plan in development stages and years from actual research and testing. The Food and Drug Administration has approved a clinical trial, and Amazon and Fred Hutchinson now seek volunteers over 18 years old for phase 1 early testing.

The initial trials, besides assessing the success of the cancer treatment, will also study anti-tumor response and survival. Company officials say they know it will be a long process, but it will also influence Amazon’s future endeavors into health care.

The words “cancer” and “vaccine” are normally not used in conjunction with each other, at least in everyday conversation, but Amazon said the aim of it and its partners is to change that. The stated goal is “personalized vaccines” for treating breast cancer and melanoma.

Researchers hope to develop a treatment much more specific to individuals than chemotherapy. They envision a less expensive alternative to traditional approaches to fighting cancer.

It was revealed due to a filing with the database of the National Library of Medicine. Amazon is named as a collaborator and Fred Hutchinson a sponsor, and both have confirmed the partnership.

The study is expected to be completed by Nov. 1, 2023.

For years, Amazon has worked on a series of innovative projects through a secretive group called Grand Challenge. Internally it’s also referred to as “1492” and “Amazon X.” A particular focus of the group, which aims at long term efforts apart from e-commerce, is cancer research.

One early goal of the partnership with Fred Hutchinson was to utilize “machine learning” for new ways to prevent or even cure cancer. It also further cements Amazon’s venture into health care, which has included an online pharmacy and COVID-19 testing through its website.

The company says if progress is shown, it is open to more partnerships such as this.

It is an odd juxtaposition to pair Jeff Bezos and Amazon with cancer research and vaccines. If a breakthrough is reached, it is a strong signal that private partnerships for fighting disease may be the wave of the future. Stay tuned.