NHS Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad

The NHS Cancer Vaccine Launch Pad (CVLP) is a platform that will speed up access to messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) personalised cancer vaccine clinical trials for people who have been diagnosed with cancer. It will also accelerate the development of cancer vaccines as a form of cancer treatment.

Through the CVLP, 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.

This collaboration, initially with pharmaceutical company BioNTech, is a significant step towards realising the potential of these personalised vaccines in cancer treatment, in the hope of transforming patient outcomes in the future.

Over time, the CVLP will enable patients to access multiple trials running in different NHS trusts in other parts of the country, increasing access in an equitable way.

Utilising the unique benefits of the NHS as an innovation partner, the collaboration aims to provide up to 10,000 patients with personalised cancer treatments in the UK by 2030.

It is set up by NHS England and Genomics England and works in parallel with the existing NHS Genomic Medicine Service.

You can find out more about clinical trials on the nhs.uk website.

What are personalised cancer vaccines?

Personalised mRNA cancer vaccines are a form of immunotherapy treatment, which are currently being tested in clinical trials. They are tailored to each person’s cancer and work by training the immune system to recognise, destroy and prevent the spread of cancer cells.

The reason they are called vaccines is because they teach the immune system to fight cancer, in the same way that vaccines teach the immune system to protect itself from viruses and bacteria.

These personalised cancer vaccines are not designed to prevent cancer from developing in the first place.

Who is suitable to take part in a cancer vaccine clinical trial?

Cancer vaccine trials are for people who have been diagnosed with cancer, either for the first time or for a returning cancer, who are undergoing treatment.

For these people, cancer vaccines may reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in the future. Not everybody who has been diagnosed or is having treatment for cancer will be eligible for a trial.

Patients identified as being suitable will be asked by the NHS team looking after them to give their consent to join the CVLP, to assess their eligibility and be put forward for clinical trials.

For patients who have given their consent to join the CVLP, the platform uses existing NHS patient data, as well as surplus tissue and a blood sample, to rapidly identify those eligible for trials – acting as a patient-to-trial matchmaking service.

Clinical teams will then discuss trial opportunities with potential participants and those who want to take part will be referred to their nearest NHS trial site.

The CVLP is being scaled up gradually, with a number of NHS Trusts set to come on board over the coming months. It is expected that vaccines will be trialled for different types of cancers as the evidence is gathered, and trials become available.