First cancer vaccines based on mRNA technology to be tested in U.K.

The BioNTech jabs will be administered to thousands of patients recruited by the NHS.

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) has been enrolling thousands of patients for its groundbreaking cancer vaccine trials, with each vaccine – not named yet – tailored to individual patient needs.

Eligible patients only need to consent to blood and tissue sampling to participate in the trials, which employ advanced mRNA technology to customize each vaccine to the patient's DNA, the NHS said in a statement.

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The NHS, which collaborates with German vaccine maker BioNTech, revealed that dozens have already joined the Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad program, which is running at 30 sites across the U.K. Initially, the focus is on patients with bladder, colorectal, kidney, lung, skin, and pancreatic cancers, with plans to expand to additional cancer types as the program develops.

As part of this collaboration, the NHS aims to provide up to 10,000 patients with personalized cancer treatments in the U.K. by 2030. BioNTech, in turn, seeks to launch its first cancer immunotherapy in 2026.

The program's first patient, 55-year-old Elliot Pfebve (pictured above), was diagnosed with colorectal cancer during a routine check-up despite having no symptoms. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, Pfebve joined the NHS pilot and became the first person to receive this type of mRNA vaccine.

BioNTech, the cancer vaccine’s developer, will present early evidence that measuring circulating tumor DNA could aid in the early detection of colorectal cancer, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago this year.

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Cancer kills around 10 million people worldwide each year and the number of growing, according to OurWorldInData.

Other developers of cancer vaccines are Pfizer, Merck, Dendreon Pharmaceuticals, Organon Teknika – all U.S. companies, GSK plc from the U.K., China’s Walvax Biotechnology and Xiamen Innovax Biotech, Poland’s Biomed Lublin, Cuba’s Center of Molecular Immunology, and the Serum Institute of India.

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