A new partnership will help accelerate clinical trials across the UK for a cancer vaccine with the potential for personalised immunotherapies

Delivering 10,000 personalised immunotherapies to UK patients by 2030, cancer vaccines and vaccines for other, wider diseases are in progress as the government reached an agreement with a leading biopharmaceutical firm, BioNTech.

Access to the trials will be through the Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad – developed by NHS England and Genomics England – which will identify large numbers of cancer patients who could be eligible for the trials and explore potential vaccines across multiple types of cancer, starting in 2023.

This agreement implies that cancer patients will get early access to trials exploring personalised mRNA therapies, like a cancer vaccine.

No two cancers are the same

Building on the lessons learnt during the pandemic – including the development of a COVID-19 vaccine – the partnership will enable the government and BioNTech to harness the country’s world-leading expertise in organisations such as the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) and Genomics England.

With the potential to transform outcomes for cancer patients, an agreement will be signed by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Steve Barclay and the Germany-based company BioNTech, which previously developed a world-leading COVID-19 vaccine with Pfizer.

A doctor extract a vaccine dose using a syringe
© Pavalache Stelian

mRNA vaccines will be able to contain a genetic blueprint to stimulate the immune system to attack cancer cells, to challenge any kind of cancer. With investment from BioNTech, the partnership can set up a new research and development hub and offices in the UK, creating jobs and strengthening the UK’s position as a leader in global life sciences.

The partnership will aim to help patients with early- and late-stage cancers

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay, said: “Once cancer is detected, we need to ensure the best possible treatments are available as soon as possible, including for breast, lung and pancreatic cancer.

“BioNTech helped lead the world on a COVID-19 vaccine and they share our commitment to scientific advancement, innovation and cutting-edge scientific technology, making them perfect partners for a deal to work together on cancer vaccines.

“This partnership will mean that, from as early as September, our patients will be among the first to participate in trials and tests to provide targeted, personalised and precision treatments using transformative new therapies to both treat the existing cancer and help stop it returning.

“This agreement builds on this government’s promise to increase research and development spending to £20 billion per year and demonstrates the UK remains one of the most attractive places in the world for innovative companies to invest in research, trial new treatments and treat patients more effectively.”

Cancer vaccines could become part of standard care

Minister for Health and Secondary Care, Will Quince, added: “Getting a cancer diagnosis can be heart-breaking for patients and families. This partnership represents a giant leap towards achieving better outcomes for patients.

“BioNTech has a proven and distinguished record in vaccine technology and contributed significantly to the development of a COVID-19 vaccine. This partnership now has the potential to develop research leading to cancer therapies which could save lives.”


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