NewsFirst British cancer patients begin trial of mRNA therapy, a technology behind COVID-19 vaccines

First British cancer patients begin trial of mRNA therapy, a technology behind COVID-19 vaccines

The first oncology patients in the United Kingdom have received experimental mRNA therapy.
The first oncology patients in the United Kingdom have received experimental mRNA therapy.
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3:06 PM EST, February 6, 2024

Preclinical cancer studies involving cellular and animal models have suggested that this new mRNA therapy, employed in COVID-19 vaccines, can influence the immune system and could be offered to patients during early-stage clinical trials. The first British patient to undergo experimental mRNA-4359 therapy was an 81-year-old man.

Britons trialing new technology to combat cancer

The clinical trial, "Mobilize", is a collaborative effort between Imperial College London and Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. Initial patients are being treated at Hammersmith Hospital in West London. Additionally, the trial is made possible due to the British government's cooperation with pharmaceutical company Moderna, the producer of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Despite being in its infancy, the physicians who helm the trial hope that the new therapy may function like a cancer vaccine. It's primarily designed to rally a patient's immune system to combat cancer.

"New cancer immunotherapies based on mRNA, such as mRNA-4359, offer an innovative method to rally a patient's immune system against cancer", said Dr. David Pinato, a clinician at the Department of Surgery and Cancer at Imperial College in London, as well as a medical oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust. However, he underscored that the trials are in their early phases and could take many years before they are accessible to patients.

This study forms a crucial foundation that brings us closer to developing new, potentially less toxic and more accurate therapies. They are desperately needed – added Pinato, as quoted on the Imperial College London website.

Pinato also offered his thanks to all patients who elected to partake in the study as volunteers.

The study is non-randomized, meaning all patients receive the same treatment. It's also an open study, meaning both doctors and patients have complete knowledge of the treatment used. This differs from blinded studies, where patients aren't aware of the treatment they receive.

Everyone understands how frightening a cancer diagnosis can be for the individuals involved and their families. However, having access to these pioneering studies - in conjunction with other advancements allowing for earlier diagnosis and treatment of cancers - is a beacon of hope. We expect thousands of additional patients to join the trials over the next few years - said Pinato.

As part of a ten-year partnership with the British government, Moderna is planning large-scale investments across the entirety of Great Britain, including the relocation of mRNA vaccine production. They also plan to conduct a considerable number of clinical trials, using the current one at Hammersmith Hospital as a template.

This vaccine could potentially save even more lives while transforming the way we treat this awful disease with therapies that are more effective and less harmful to the patient. It further cements our standing as a superpower in the field of natural sciences and demonstrates our dedication to research and development - highlighted Victorii Atkins, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care.
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