A revolutionary new cancer treatment known as mRNA therapy has been administered to patients at Hammersmith hospital in west London. The trial has been set up to evaluate the therapy’s safety and effectiveness in treating melanoma, lung cancer and other solid tumours.
The new treatment uses genetic material known as messenger RNA – or mRNA – and works by presenting common markers from tumours to the patient’s immune system.
he aim is to help it recognise and fight cancer cells that express those markers.
“New mRNA-based cancer immunotherapies offer an avenue for recruiting the patient’s own immune system to fight their cancer,” said Dr David Pinato of Imperial College London, an investigator with the trial’s UK arm.
Pinato said this research was still in its early stages and could take years before becoming available for patients. However, the new trial was laying crucial groundwork that could help develop less toxic and more precise new anti-cancer therapies. “We desperately need these to turn the tide against cancer,” he added.
A number of cancer vaccines have recently entered clinical trials across the globe. These fall into two categories: personalised cancer immunotherapies, which rely on extracting a patient’s own genetic material from their tumours; and therapeutic cancer immunotherapies, such as the mRNA therapy newly launched in London, which are “ready made” and tailored to a particular type of cancer.