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Thousands of cancer patients to benefit from personalised vaccines

NHS cancer patients are expected to get access to the latest vaccine technology, hailed as a ‘landmark’ moment to stop the disease

Thousands of NHS cancer patients are expected to benefit from a new vaccine which recognises cancer cells unique to their own disease. Patients will be a part of the NHS England Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad clinical trials to receive personalised treatments to stop their cancer returning.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive hailed this as a ‘landmark’ moment for patients and the health service to help save more lives and keep up the record-high cancer survival rates in the country.

‘The NHS is in a unique position to deliver this kind of world-leading research at size and scale, and as more of these trials get up and running at hospitals across the country, our national match-making service will ensure as many eligible patients as possible get the opportunity to access them.’

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Patients who agree to take part in the trial will have a sample of their cancer tissue and a blood test taken. The vaccines will then be created by identifying mutations specific to their own cancer. This personalised treatment is designed to prime the immune system to recognise and destroy any remaining cancer cells and reduce the risk of the disease recurring.

Elliot Pfebve, 55, is the first patient to be treated with the personalised vaccine against bowel cancer in Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He said that he was ‘excited’ for the trial and it was an important decision for him and his family.

'Having been through the difficulty of diagnosis and debilitating chemotherapy, it felt wonderful to be able to take part in something which could lead to a new way of treating cancer. If it is successful, it may help thousands, if not millions of people, so they can have hope, and may not experience all I have gone through. I hope this will help other people.’

Cancer Research UK has welcomed the personalised cancer vaccines.

Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at the charity said: ‘It’s incredibly exciting that patients in England are beginning to access personalised cancer vaccines for bowel cancer. Clinical trials like this are vital in helping more people live longer, better lives, free from the fear of cancer. If successful, the vaccine will be a game changer in preventing the onset or return of bowel cancer.'

The NHS is working in partnership with Genomics England on the launch pad. More than 30 hospitals have already signed up, recruiting dozens of patients, with more expected to join in the coming months.