The first patient in England has been treated with a personalised vaccine against bowel cancer, in a clinical trial as part of NHS England’s Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad.

The launch pad, created in partnership with Genomics England, is a platform that aims to speed up access to messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) personalised cancer vaccine clinical trials for people who have been diagnosed with cancer.

Through the platform, people with cancer who are receiving treatment in the NHS in England can be assessed to see if they might be eligible to join a cancer vaccine clinical trial, and then referred to a hospital that is running a trial.

To date 30 hospitals in England have signed up to the Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad with more sites set to join the platform, according to an NHSE announcement, published on 31 May 2024.

The collaboration aims to provide up to 10,000 patients with personalised cancer treatments in the UK by 2030.

Amanda Pritchard, NHS chief executive, said: “The NHS is in a unique position to deliver this kind of world-leading research at size and scale, and as more of these trials get up and running at hospitals across the country, our national match-making service will ensure as many eligible patients as possible get the opportunity to access them.”

Elliot Phebve, the first patient to be treated under the launch pad initiative received a developmental jab for his bowel cancer at University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, one of several sites participating in the BioNTech-sponsored colorectal cancer vaccine trial.

The investigational cancer vaccines being jointly developed by biopharmaceutical companies BioNTech and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group, are still undergoing trials and have not yet been approved by regulators.

In 2023, the government signed an agreement with BioNTech, to deliver up to 10,000 patients with precision cancer immunotherapies by 2030.

Ultimately, the launch pad is planned to be expanded to work with more partners from the pharmaceutical industry, widening the number of patients who could join a vaccine trial and the types of cancer being studied.

Professor Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer at the NHS said: “Access to clinical trials could provide another option for patients and their families, and I’m delighted that through our national launch pad we will be widening the opportunities to be part of these trials for many more people, with thousands of patients expected to be recruited in the next year.”