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26th Apr 2024

World’s first vaccine for skin cancer being tested on UK patients

Charlie Herbert

It’s been hailed as ‘one of the most exciting developments in modern cancer therapy’

The world’s first jab to stop the deadliest form of skin cancer is being tested on patients in the UK.

The mRNA vaccine, which uses the same technology as current COVID vaccines, is personalised to each person and tells the body to identify cancer cells and stops the disease returning.

The treatment has been described as a “game-changer” and has the potential to stop bladder, lung and kidney cancer.

Stage two trials of the jab found it significantly reduced the risk of cancer coming back in melanoma patients, Sky News reports.

University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (UCLH) is now leading the third and final trial phase.

UCLH investigator Dr Heather Shaw said the jab had the potential to cure people with melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – and was being tested on lung, bladder and kidney tumours.

“This is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen in a really long time,” she said.

“It is absolutely custom built for the patient – you couldn’t give this to the next patient in the line because you wouldn’t expect it to work.

“It’s truly personalised.

“These things are hugely technical and finely generated for the patient.”

The jab is personalised to an individual by taking a tumour sample from the patient and sequencing its DNA.

One of the first people to try the shot was Steve Young, 52, from Stevenage. He had a melanoma growth cut out of his scalp last summer.

Speaking about the treatment to BBC Radio 4, he said the trial had given him “a chance to feel like I was actually doing something to fight a potential unseen enemy.”

He said: “Scans showed I was radiologically clear, obviously there is still the chance I had cancer cells floating around undetected.

“So rather than just sit there and wait and hope it was never going to come back, I actually had this chance to get involved in putting on some boxing gloves and squaring up to it.”

The news is the latest promising development in the battle against cancer.

Last month, researchers at the University of Oxford, the Francis Crick Institute and University College London (UCL) revealed they were working on creating the world’s first lung cancer vaccine.

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