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CR UK, Vaccitech strike deal for new immunotherapeutic vaccine

Cancer Research UK has announced a first-in-human trial to bring a novel immunotherapeutic vaccine strategy to patients with lung cancer.

The treatment, which is part of a partnership between the charity and Vaccitech Oncology, is designed to stimulate the body’s immune system to attack cancer cells. Known as VTP-600, it is designed on the back of Vaccitech’s proprietary viral vector platform, and aims to deliver cancer-associated antigens (MAGE A3 and NY-ESO-1) to antigen presenting cells called dendritic cells, causing the immune system to produce cytotoxic T cells, which target and kill cancerous cells expressing the antigens.

The project marks the first time that a viral vaccine programme using this platform will be tested in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), with separate clinical trials also ongoing to test similar recombinant virus vaccines to treat people with late-stage prostate cancer.

The collaboration is an “important step to help accelerate this promising immunotherapy and could help more people survive lung cancer, which remains very hard to treat” explained Dr Nigel Blackburn, Cancer Research UK’s director of drug development.

He continued, “This novel approach using a modified adenovirus to prime the immune system and alert it to the presence of cancer cells could offer a completely new way to treat the disease.”

The charity revealed that the trial will enrol approximately 80 people who have been diagnosed with NSCLC, and is due to start at the end of 2020. It will be conducted across multiple sites in the UK, through the Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) network.

Every year around 41,700 people are diagnosed with NSCLC in the UK, which accounts for around 88% of all lung cancer cases. New treatments are urgently needed, as only around 5% of people survive lung cancer for 10 years or more in the UK.