UK steps up plans to develop mRNA vaccines for cancer patients with BioNTech deal

The latest research into developing personalized mRNA vaccines for cancer patients will be accelerated following the UK’s successful Covid-jab launch.

BioNTech, the German company that co-produced a Covid vaccine with Pfizer, will partner with the government to deliver 10,000 personalized treatments to UK patients by 2030.

Under the plans, cancer patients will gain early access to trials investigating personalized mRNA therapies, including cancer vaccines. Such vaccines will contain a “genetic blueprint” that stimulates the immune system to attack cancer cells.

Current cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy, can attack cancerous cells as well as healthy cells, causing adverse side effects and disease.

Cancer trials could begin in the second half of this year.

Access to the trials will be available through the Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad developed by NHS England and Genomics England.

The launch pad will aid in the rapid identification of large numbers of cancer patients who may be eligible for trials and the discovery of potential vaccines for various types of cancer.

The partnership will aim to help patients with early and late stage cancer. If successfully developed, cancer vaccines could become part of standard care.

There were 327,174 new cases of cancer diagnosed in the UK in 2019. According to figures from the House of Commons library, incidence rates increased between 1995 and 2013 but have dropped slightly since then.

The incidence was 23 percent higher in men than women, the study said. There is still no cure for the disease.

BioNTech said it plans to invest in a UK Research and Development center in Cambridge “with the expected capacity of more than 70 highly skilled scientists”.

Health secretary Steve Barclay was due to sign a memorandum of understanding with BioNTech on Friday.

Cancer trials could begin in the second half of this year (Getty Images)

Cancer trials could begin in the second half of this year (Getty Images)

“BioNTech has helped lead the world in a Covid-19 vaccine and they share our commitment to scientific progress, innovation and cutting-edge scientific technology, making them excellent partners for an agreement to work together on cancer vaccines.

“This partnership will mean that from September, our patients will be among the first to join trials and testing to provide targeted, personalized and precise treatments using transformative new therapies to both treat existing cancer and stop its recurrence.”

He continued: “This agreement builds on this government’s commitment to increase research and development spending to £20 billion a year and demonstrates that the UK remains one of the most attractive places in the world for innovative companies to invest in research, trial and treatment of new treatments. more effective in patients.”

Professor Uğur Şahin, managing director, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, said: “The UK has delivered its COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because the National Health Service, academia, regulatory agency and the private sector have worked together exemplary. worked.

“This agreement is the result of lessons learned from the Covid-19 pandemic, because we are all experiencing that if everyone works together seamlessly for the same goal, drug development can be accelerated without cutting corners. Today’s agreement demonstrates our determination to do the same for cancer patients.”

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