Health Secretary Sajid Javid will announce a “war on cancer” from today, which will include jabbing those newly diagnosed with vaccines that help the immune system identify and kill cancer cells
Cancer vaccines using technology pioneered during the pandemic will be central to a 10-year plan to improve the UK’s poor cancer survival rates.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid will announce a “war on cancer” from UK Friday which will include jabbing those newly diagnosed with vaccines that help the immune system identify and kill cancer cells.
Vaccines in development use the same Messenger RNA (mRNA) technology used in Pfizer and Moderna jabs against Covid-19.
In a speech from midday at London’s Francis Crick Institute, Mr Javid is expected to say: “This Plan will show how we are learning the lessons from the pandemic, and apply them to improving cancer services over the next decade.
“It will take a far-reaching look at how we want cancer care to be in 2032 – ten years from now. Looking at all stages, from prevention, to diagnosis, to treatment and vaccines.”
Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines teach our cells how to make a protein that will trigger an immune response inside our bodies.
Cancer mRNA vaccines currently in development would be personalized to the genetics of a newly-diagnosed cancer patient.
It is hoped an injection would then teach the immune system to be on guard for the cancer cells and stop tumors coming back after surgery.
Currently there are only preventative cancer vaccines, such as the HPV jab, that stop viruses which can cause cancer in the first place.
Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, told BBC Radio 4: “What’s new here is we’re talking about personalized cancer vaccines for treatments of either early cancers, or late stage cancers.
“Every tumor is different. Unlike the prevention vaccines for human papilloma virus where every patient gets the same vaccine here, the cancer vaccines are personalized, specific to each patient’s tumor.
University of Oxford/AFP via Get)
“So what you do is you take the tumor out, genetically sequence it then you predict mutations in the tumor that the patient’s immune system might recognize.
“Then you develop an mRNA vaccine against those mutations.
“So it’s a little bit like having a different Covid vaccine for every patient and it’s really complex. There are really state of the art technologies involved.”
He added: “A lot more clinical research is needed to establish whether they will live up to excitement.”
Officials are reportedly working on plans to intensify research on mRNA vaccines for cancer.
Currently the UK lags other major European countries on survival rates for most cancers.
Mr Javid will today launch a “call for evidence” as part of an ambition to make Britain a “world leader” in cancer care.
It follows warnings that there are 50,000 missing diagnoses since the start of the pandemic.
Dr. Jeanette Dickson, president of the Royal College of Radiologists, said: “We welcome this renewed focus on early diagnostics and innovative treatments.
“Cancer is devastating too many lives and the backlog needs to be tackled. Diagnostic scanning is crucial to winning the war on cancer, but there’s no quick fix.
“We have a shortfall of nearly 2,000 consulting radiologists, the doctors who interpret complex scans, and we need a long-term plan to solve this.
“Too many scanning machines are out of date making them slower, less accurate, and disconnected from IT systems.
“Finally, we need more consulting oncologists as we’re seeing a shortfall of nearly 20%. These are the doctors who treat cancer and will be at the forefront of innovative therapies.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.