A genomics testing programme being run by the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) will be a key player in supporting the service’s future oncology personalised medicine trials.

A panel at the NHS Confed Expo 2024, held at the Manchester Central Convention Centre, heard from key players in the UK’s oncology research space about how the latest innovations will intertwine to support and bolster research.

Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer of NHS England said that the genomic medicine programme will help speed up the development time for these therapies.

“Genome diagnostics will guide us to both understanding prognosis and understanding the most effective forms of treatment,” Johnson said.

“As a result, it will directly allow us to develop some of these vaccine strategies, which is something that we need to progress as rapidly as possible.”

Professor Dame Sue Hill, chief scientific officer for NHS England and head of NHS Genomic Medicine Centres, spoke about how the genomics programme supports drug development, specifically in oncology.

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“We funded an infrastructure to support innovation, and alignment with research and development and clinical trials, which was one of our key principles,” Hill explained.

“The first thing we need to do is more in cancer and look at how genomics can help us drive down turnaround times that align with clinical trials. The second is with pharmacogenomics – this is going to change the way in which we manage medicines as we move forward.”

Johnson also spoke about two ongoing NHS personalised mRNA cancer vaccine clinical trials, which are ongoing, one is being conducted in collaboration with Moderna in melanoma. Recent data presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Meeting 2024 showed the vaccine cut the risk of cancer returning and death by 49% compared with patients who were on anti-PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) alone (2023-503652-27).

The second trial, which has been recently launched by the NHS in collaboration with BioNTech, is investigating personalised mRNA cancer vaccines in patients with resected colorectal cancer.

“If we can really capitalise on our understanding of how the immune system works and responds to these vaccines, it could be applicable across a range of cancer types. If this is the case, we can incrementally improve the results of treatment, even for those people who have an operation but remain at risk of recurrence,” Johnson said.

mRNA vaccine coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology (Or Clinical Trials Arena)  is supported by Trilink. Editorial content is independently produced and follows the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Topic sponsors are not involved in the creation of editorial content.