The Download: The Renaissance of Cancer Vaccinations and the Path to a Decarbonized Future
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The Download: The Renaissance of Cancer Vaccinations and the Path to a Decarbonized Future

Last week, Moderna and Merck in the United Kingdom launched a large clinical trial of a promising new cancer therapy: a personalized vaccine that targets a specific group of mutations in each individual's tumor. This study will enroll patients with melanoma. But the companies have also started a phase III study for lung cancer. And earlier this month, BioNTech and Genentech announced that a personalized vaccine they co-developed shows promise in pancreatic cancer, which has a notoriously poor survival rate.

Drug developers have been working on vaccines to help the body's immune system fight cancer for decades, without much success. However, last year's promising results suggest that the strategy may be reaching a tipping point. Will these therapies finally deliver what they promise? Read the full story.

– Cassandra Willyard

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How we transform into a fully decarbonized world

Deb Chachra is a professor of engineering at Olin College of Engineering in Needham, Massachusetts, and author of How Infrastructure Works: Inside the Systems That Shape Our World

Like technological breakthroughs, it is the availability of energy that has shaped our material world. The exponential increase in fossil fuel consumption over the last century and a half has enabled novel, energy-intensive methods of extracting, processing and consuming materials on an unprecedented scale.

But the cumulative ecological, health and social impacts of this approach can no longer be ignored. We can see them almost everywhere, from the health impacts of living near highways or oil refineries to the ever-increasing problem of plastic, textile and electronic waste.

Decarbonizing our energy systems means meeting human needs without burning fossil fuels and releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The good news is that a world powered by electricity from abundant, renewable and environmentally friendly sources is now within reach. Read the full story.