UK trials of a groundbreaking skin cancer vaccine offer hope for . . .
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UK trials of a groundbreaking skin cancer vaccine offer hope for effective treatment.

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The vaccine is tailored to each patient and, if successful, could help prevent ladder, lung, and kidney cancer.

 

It works by instructing the body to hunt down cancer cells and prevent the cancer from returning.

A phase 2 experiment involving pharmaceutical companies Moderna and MSD discovered that it dramatically reduced the probability of cancer recurrence in melanoma patients.

Dr Heather Shaw, the trial’s co-ordinating investigator, described the jab as “one of the most exciting things we’ve seen in a really long time” and a “really finely honed tool”.

She continued, “To be able to sit there and say to your patients that you’re offering them something that’s effectively like the Fat Duck at Bray versus McDonald’s – it’s that level of cordon bleu that’s coming to them.”

“These things are really complex and meticulously created for the patient. “The patients are very excited about them.”

Steve Young, 52, of Stevenage, is one of the patients participating in the UCLH experiment. The “bump” on his head turned out to be melanoma.

Mr Young stated that learning about the trial “really triggered my geek radar”.

He continued, “It aroused my interest. I was thinking, ‘that sounds fascinating’ as soon as they announced this mRNA technology that was being utilized to potentially combat cancer, and I still am. I’m incredibly excited.

“This is my best chance at stopping the cancer in its tracks.”

The jab, known as mRNA-4157 (V940), is designed to target tumour neoantigens that are expressed by tumors in a specific patient.

These are tumor-specific signals that the immune system may recognise.

The jab contains code for up to 34 neoantigens and stimulates an anti-tumor immune response based on the specific mutations found in a patient’s malignancy.

A tumor sample is extracted during the patient’s operation to make the jab, which is then sequenced using DNA and artificial intelligence.

Dr. Shaw stated, “This is very much an individualised therapy, and it’s far cleverer in some ways than a vaccine.”

“It is completely custom-made for the patient; you could not offer this to the next patient in line because you wouldn’t expect it to work.

“They may have some shared new antigens, but they’re likely to have their own very individual new antigens that are important to their tumour and so, therefore, it is truly personalised.”

Dr Shaw stated that the ultimate goal is to cure patients’ cancers.

“Absolutely, it is the motivation. With (this) therapy, you’re dealing with the theoretical possibility that the cancer will reoccur.

“So there’s nothing to observe on scans, but if some cells have escaped and are below the detection limit of imaging, what we’re attempting to do is offer treatment on a patient-by-patient basis to eliminate any rogue cells that may be lurking about.

“What we’re trying to do is to push more patients into that recurrence-free survival bucket, which should translate into overall survival benefit and a non-recurrence of those patients over time, which equals cure.”

 

 

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