NHS England launches country-wide cancer vaccine trials

Vaccine

Thousands of cancer patients in England are set to gain fast-tracked access to trials of mRNA personalised cancer vaccines following the launch of an NHS trial ‘matchmaking’ service to help find new life-saving treatments.

The vaccines being jointly developed by biopharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Genentech are still undergoing trials and have not yet been approved by regulators.

Thirty hospitals in England are already signed up to the Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad – one of the biggest projects of its kind in the world – with more sites joining the platform over the coming months.

The scheme aims to expand and work with a range of partners in the pharmaceutical industry to include patients across many cancer types who could potentially join a vaccine trial, such as those with pancreatic and lung cancer.

Principal Investigator for the trial at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Consultant Clinical Oncologist, Dr Victoria Kunene, said: “The investigational cancer vaccines are based on mRNA and are created by analysing a patient’s tumour to identify mutations specific to their own cancer. Using this information, we can create an individualised investigational cancer vaccine, but it is too early yet to say if these will be successful, though we are extremely hopeful.

“Based on the limited data we currently have of the in-body response to the vaccine, this could prove to be a significant and positive development for patients, but more data is yet needed and we continue to recruit suitable patients to the trial to establish this further.”

Identifying eligible patients through genomics

Last year, the UK government signed an agreement with BioNTech to provide up to 10,000 patients with precision cancer immunotherapies by 2030.

The company has already begun conducting clinical trials in the UK, and the NHS launch pad is helping to accelerate the identification of eligible patients for those trials in England.

The NHS is working in partnership with Genomics England on the launch pad, with work already helping patients access the latest testing technologies and ensuring they are given more targeted precision treatments for their cancer.

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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