- The government signs an agreement with BioNTech SE to provide 10,000 patients with clear cancer antibodies by 2030
- NHS England’s New Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad aims to improve access to personalized treatments and clinical trials.
- BioNTech SE to establish laboratories and regional centers in England to support the development of immunotherapy.
A new cancer treatment launched has moved closer with the signing of a major agreement between the government and BioNTech SE.
Building on the memorandum of understanding signed in January, the partnership will provide cancer patients with improved access to the latest cancer trials and treatments currently being developed.
The government has signed a long-term collaboration agreement with Germany-based BioNTech – which previously developed the world’s leading COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer – to ensure more patients can benefit from personalized cancer treatments.
This includes clinical trials in the UK that aim to help treat patients through the use of specific immunotherapies which work by stimulating the immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells. The aim is to provide access to personalized treatment for up to 10,000 patients by 2030.
BioNTech SE has already started clinical trials in the UK. Additional trials will be launched although most patients are expected to be enrolled from 2026 onwards.
To help deliver this research, BioNTech plans to set up a new laboratory in Cambridge with more than 70 highly skilled scientists as well as a new regional center in the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said:
This important new agreement brings us one step closer to providing cancer treatment. New that saved the lives of thousands of patients across the country.
The UK is a global leader in life sciences – helping to create thousands of highly skilled jobs and pioneering research – and it is testament to this success that BioNTech has chosen to make a significant investment here today.
A personalized cancer vaccine has the potential to completely revolutionize the way we treat this devastating disease and it is very welcome that, thanks to today’s announcement, clinical trials will be widely publicized.
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay said:
This collaboration is a big step in the fight against cancer.
By working together with BioNTech on these innovative treatments we can make progress and save lives and I am excited about these trials to both treat cancer patients and those who have it to stop it coming back.
This further demonstrates that the UK is an attractive place for innovative companies to invest in and pioneer medical treatments for our patients and highlights this government’s commitment to research and development.
The new cancer vaccine launch pad (CVLP), led by NHS England in partnership with Genomics England, will help to quickly identify cancer patients who are eligible for potential trials.
It will work by creating a database of NHS cancer patients who are eligible to be offered the option to participate in individualized cancer vaccine trials.
The collaboration will aim to help patients with early and late stage cancer and, if successfully developed, a cancer vaccine could become part of standard care.
Amanda Pritchard, Chief Executive of the NHS said:
The NHS will not stop in its efforts to pioneer new treatments that could change lives for generations to come. This is why we developed our first Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad, enabling us to identify thousands of NHS patients who are suitable for cancer vaccine trials – giving them access to cutting-edge technology that has the potential to change cancer care forever.
Thanks to advances in treatment and care alongside NHS awareness campaigns, cancer survival is at an all-time high, but the potential to stop cancer from returning is truly remarkable – and with the first patients set to take part in vaccine trials this autumn, we. Hope to find a way to vaccinate people against their own cancer and improve their chances of survival.
The trial will focus on personalized mRNA-based cancer treatments – a type of cancer treatment that activates the patient’s immune system and can be designed to target common abnormalities in a specific cancer type or tailored to an individual’s tumor.
Personalized immunotherapy is created by analyzing a patient’s tumor to identify mutations specific to that person’s cancer, then using that information to create personalized antibodies for that patient.
The relevant partners will work to make the process as simple and efficient as possible with BioNTech aiming to start further clinical trials and bring potential new treatments to the UK as soon as possible.
Prof. Uğur Şahin, MD, Managing Director and Co-Founder of BioNTech said:
We are truly honored to be an important part of this important partnership, alongside the UK Government, NHS England, Genomics England, and the National Institute for Health and Care Research.
The United Kingdom’s expertise in genetic analysis in cancer patients is a key component of our joint efforts to make mRNA-based and precision cancer therapies widely accessible through clinical trials.
If successful, this partnership has the potential to improve outcomes for cancer patients not only in the UK, but globally.
Sean Marett, CMG, Chief Business Officer and Chief Commercial Officer of BioNTech SE, said:
Through the development by the UK of a unified national contract method for clinical trials that will help hospitals to quickly register in clinical trials conducted in the UK by BioNTech, we hope to reach many British cancer patients who want to participate in clinical trials. With the new BioNTech, investigational cancer treatments are fast and effective.
Trade and Commerce Minister Kemi Badenoch said:
This government is supporting our life sciences sector to be one of the best in the world, with no better example than our global leadership in developing and launching the first Covid-19 vaccine.
Investing in life sciences is the key if we are to become a scientific superpower. By 2030, helping to grow the economy and provide significant health benefits For the people of England and around the world.
Patients will be asked by the NHS to consent to being referred to a clinical trial, and excess tissue samples will be used to assess their eligibility.
Details of eligible clinical trials will be disclosed to participants and their medical team to determine whether they wish to participate in the relevant trial.
Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology Chloe Smith said:
I know from personal experience what it feels like to be faced with a cancer diagnosis. I am very fortunate to benefit from world-class care from our wonderful NHS. There are brilliant scientists, researchers and doctors working on the kinds of life-saving cancer treatments and cures that this deal will provide.
This partnership is a perfect example of how our £94 billion life sciences sector is improving lives across the country. This deal will keep highly skilled jobs and investment in the UK. But most importantly, it will deliver better outcomes for cancer patients in the UK, ensuring they can live long, happy and healthy lives.
Chris Wigley, chief executive of Genomics England said:
Since the time of Darwin, Franklin, and Sanger, England has been a true world leader in genomic science and health care. To sustain that leadership, we must continue to deliver world firsts, more innovations, and more benefits to patients, both nationally and internationally.
We talk about the cancer vaccine “Launch Pad” – the rocket being launched is access to personalized cancer treatments that can change lives and improve outcomes for those affected by this devastating disease. It’s almost hard to understand, but there are drugs that are made just for you, to attack your own cancer tumors.
We are excited that this collaboration will enable genomics to expand beyond diagnostics and lead us to the future of personalized cancer treatment.
Note to the editor
This follows the government’s response to the James O’Shaughnessy clinical trial review in May and a £121 million commitment to improving and accelerating commercial clinical trials including providing a comprehensive and mandatory national approach to contracting.
Later today, leading NHS oncologists from across the UK will meet in Westminster to celebrate the launch of this exciting partnership and discuss their role in this important development.
What is a personalized cancer vaccine?
Personalized cancer vaccination is a new method for cancer treatment, which is currently being evaluated in clinical trials.
Individualized cancer vaccines work by stimulating the individual’s immune system to recognize and eliminate cancer cells and thus prevent the spread of cancer cells.
They are called “vaccines” even though they are not prophylactic but therapeutic and are used as cancer treatment. The reason they are called vaccines is that they teach and stimulate the immune system to fight cancer, just as vaccines teach the immune system to protect itself from viruses and bacteria.
How do they work?
Cancer cells are different from normal cells. They have mutations or abnormal proteins.
A person’s immune system works continuously to recognize and destroy abnormal cells. Sometimes, however, these cells can evade the mechanisms of the immune system, which can cause cancer.
Individual cancer vaccines build the ability of the immune system to recognize and destroy cancer cells and can even enhance its ability to cure cancer. When the immune system is reactivated, the body may find and destroy cancer cells.
Some specific cancer vaccines are tailored to the individual’s needs and their cancer. Cancer vaccines can be personalized, based on the genomic sequence of the patient’s tumor sample.
Other personalized cancer vaccines can be off-the-shelf products. These target common abnormalities in the respective cancer types.
Who are they?
Because cancer is a complex disease, it requires a diverse set of tools to stimulate and activate each cancer patient’s immune system to help them fight cancer.
The individualized cancer vaccine candidates being evaluated—along with other types of immunotherapies—are intended to provide therapeutic benefits to patients throughout the patient journey and across solid tumors.
For this reason, there will be cancer treatment trials that aim to help in first-line treatment or following surgery or chemotherapy or for patients who do not respond well to established treatments).
What is the potential of individualized cancer vaccination?
The potential of personalized cancer vaccines is under investigation with preliminary results.
The purpose of cancer vaccination is to find better ways to treat it and improve the standard of care.
As with other new cancer treatments, cancer vaccine candidates are tested in a careful, step-by-step manner.
The UK collaboration will initially focus on new treatments for the most common types of cancer in countries with high medical needs.
The aim is that in the future, specialist centers will be located in major hospitals across the UK. , offering a new way to treat patients
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