Thousands of people will test personalized cancer vaccines

Thousands of people will test personalized cancer vaccines

Screenshot, Elliot Pfebve participates in the trial

  • Author, Fergus Walsh
  • Role, medical editor

Thousands of NHS cancer patients in England are expected to have access to trials of a new type of treatment that uses vaccines to combat their disease.

So far, thirty hospitals have signed up for the cancer vaccine launch platform.

It is designed to connect patients to upcoming trials that will use mRNA technology, as found in current Covid shots.

Vaccines are designed to prime the immune system to recognize and destroy remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of the disease coming back.

Elliot Pfebve, 55, is the first patient to be treated with a personalized bowel cancer vaccine in England.

Elliot, who has already undergone surgery and chemotherapy, received the injection at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

“I’m excited. I did some research into the treatment trial. If it’s successful, it will be a major medical breakthrough,” he said.

He added: “It can help thousands, if not millions, of people, so they can have hope and not experience everything I have been through.”

After Elliot’s initial treatment, tests showed he still had fragments of cancerous DNA in his bloodstream, increasing patients’ risk of cancer returning.

That’s why he enrolled in a trial of an investigational vaccine made by the German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, which uses the same mRNA technology as in the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine.

What is a personalized cancer vaccine?

Vaccines are usually designed to prevent diseases.

But cancer vaccines are created as a treatment once someone has been diagnosed.

As with conventional vaccines, they prepare the immune system to search for an enemy, in this case the patient’s cancer.

A sample of Elliot’s tumor was sent to BioNTech laboratories in Germany, where up to 20 mutations specific to his cancer were identified.

Using this information, a vaccine was created using mRNA, which contains instructions for Elliot’s cells to produce mutated rogue proteins unique to his cancer cells.

The vaccine acts as a “wanted poster” that unmasks cancer cells that often hide in the body only to re-emerge later.

The intention is for the vaccine to prime your immune system to seek out and destroy any remaining traces of cancer, thereby improving the chances that you will be cancer-free for years to come.

Screenshot, Dr. Victoria Kunene hopes the vaccine will reduce the risk of cancer recurrence

Dr Victoria Kunene, lead researcher on the trial at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, told the BBC: “I think this is a new era. The science behind it makes sense.

“My hope is that this becomes the standard of care. It makes sense that we could have something that can help patients reduce their risk of cancer recurrence.”

But it’s still early days, and while there is great optimism about the potential of mRNA vaccines for cancer treatment, they are still in the experimental stage and are only available as part of clinical trials.

More than 200 patients in the UK, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Sweden will be recruited to the trial and will receive up to 15 doses of the personalized vaccine.

The study will not be completed until 2027.

One hope is that the vaccines will cause fewer side effects than conventional chemotherapy.

Elliot said that other than a mild fever after the shot, he had no other problems with the vaccine.

Amanda Pritchard, chief executive of NHS England, said: “Seeing Elliot receive his first treatment as part of the cancer vaccine rollout is a historic moment for patients and the health service as we look to develop better ways and more effective in stopping this disease.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS national clinical director for cancer, said: “We know that even after a successful operation, cancers can sometimes come back because some cancer cells remain in the body, but using a vaccine to attack those remaining cells can be a way to prevent this from happening.”

Last month, a patient in London received a personalized mRNA vaccine against melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer.

That jab was created by Moderna and used the same technology as in their Covid jabs.

Moderna and BioNTech have begun or are planning trials of mRNA vaccines against a variety of tumor types, including lung, breast and bladder cancer.

What are some of the symptoms of bowel cancer?

  • Changes in your poop, such as having softer poop, diarrhea, or constipation that is unusual for you
  • Need to defecate more or less frequently than usual
  • Blood in your poop, which may look red or black.
  • bleeding from your ass
  • You often feel like you need to poop, even if you just went to the bathroom.
  • stomachache
  • A lump in your belly
  • swelling
  • Lose weight without trying
  • Feeling very tired for no reason

While some of these symptoms are very common and may be caused by other conditions, it is important to see a primary care doctor.