UK patients will have early access to clinical trials of new cancer treatments under a deal between the government and German pharmaceutical company BioNTech.
BioNTech develops an mRNA vaccine with US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer during 2020 Coronavirus Pandemic.
Its partnership with the UK government aims to deliver personalized treatments to 10,000 patients by 2030 through a new research and development center in Cambridge.
Health Secretary Steve Barclay said clinical trials could start as early as September.
In contrast to broader chemotherapy, mRNA technology works by targeting specific cells with the genetic code of the cancer it is seeking to fight.
The company’s chief medical officer, Dr Ozlem Tureci, said the UK was an “obvious” candidate for the new facility due to the NHS’s ability to quickly find participants.
He said the UK’s “exceptionally agile” health regulator and the genomics sector had been given an added bonus.
Biotechnology Co-Founder and CEO Ugur Sahin said: “This agreement is the result of lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. If everyone works seamlessly towards the same goal, it can be achieved without cutting corners. Accelerate drug development.
“Today’s agreement demonstrates our commitment to doing the same for cancer patients.”
He added: “Our aim is to accelerate the development of immunotherapies and vaccines using technologies we have been researching for over 20 years. This collaboration will cover a wide range of cancer types and infectious diseases that affect hundreds of millions of people around the world.
“If successful, this collaboration has the potential to improve patient outcomes and bring earlier access to our suite of cancer immunotherapies, as well as innovative vaccines against infectious diseases, both in the UK and globally.”
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Mr Barclay said: “Once cancer is detected, we need to ensure that the best treatments are available as quickly as possible, including for breast, lung and pancreatic cancers.
“BioNTech has helped lead the world in vaccines for COVID-19, and they share our commitment to scientific advancement, innovation and cutting-edge science, making them the perfect partner for this cancer vaccine collaboration agreement.”
He added: “This partnership means that, starting as early as September, our patients will be among the first to participate in trials and tests to provide targeted, personalized treatment with transformative new therapies. And precision therapy to treat existing cancer and help stop it coming back.”
“[It] shows that the UK remains one of the most attractive places in the world for innovative companies to invest in research. “