Lab experiment as part of a clinical trial

Global trial exploring cancer vaccines gets boost ahead of launch

A worldwide clinical trial investigating tailored cancer treatment has been given a boost as the UK Chief Investigator is named.

Consultant Hepatobiliary Surgeon at Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Robert Jones, has been appointed in the role, where he will oversee the central hub of the study in Merseyside.

The trial – a collaborative effort with The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS Foundation Trust, the University of Liverpool and a partnering pharmaceutical company – will explore the possibility of customising treatment for bowel cancer by using mRNA technology and each patient’s genetic code.

Jones said: “This is an incredible opportunity to change the face of cancer treatment. I’m delighted to help run this trial which we hope will mean more people are cured of colorectal cancer after surgery.

“Making vaccines for cancer has always been very difficult, because unlike other diseases, cancer has a unique appearance to the patient’s own immune system.

“Using new technology, we are now able to quickly and efficiently develop a vaccine that is specific to each individual’s cancer. The early results have been really encouraging, and we know these vaccines are very well tolerated with far less toxicity than chemotherapy.”

In order to qualify for the study, patients must have had surgery for their bowel cancer and been subsequently offered follow-up chemotherapy, with the first recruits expected next month and as many as 350 by October.

Ultimately, the study is looking to build on the work done during the pandemic on the COVID-19 vaccines that also used mRNA technology.

Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Jim Gardner, added: “The prospect of changing how we treat cancer using vaccines is momentous. To have this trial based in Liverpool and led by Mr Jones is a wonderful opportunity for our local patients to receive potentially life-changing, personalised care.

“It further bolsters how our region is becoming a leader in delivering innovative, healthcare research, and we look forward to seeing the results of this trial.”

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