"We are on the edge of something really big"
A new vaccine that aims to treat early-stage bowel cancer is set to undergo clinical trials.
This has been made possible through a global partnership involving scientists and medical professionals from the Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust and institutions in Australia.
The Cancer Research UK Southampton Clinical Trials Unit, in conjunction with Royal Surrey and the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Adelaide, Australia, will conduct the trial.
The study aims to enrol 44 patients over 18 months, with 10 enrollment sites, six of which are located in Australia and four in the UK.
British Indian doctor, Tony Dhillon, the lead investigator of the trial conceived the idea and has collaborated with Professor Tim Price in Australia over the past four years to develop the vaccine.
The vaccine will be administered to patients before surgery, with the expectation that it will stimulate the body’s immune response against the cancer.
This will potentially lead to less invasive surgical procedures.
Additionally, there is optimism that the potency of the vaccine could bolster the immune system’s ability to combat any potential relapse of the cancer in the future.
Speaking on the trial, Dr Dhillon said:
“This is the first treatment vaccine in any gastrointestinal cancer and we have high hopes that it will be very successful.
“We think that for a lot of patients, the cancer will have completely gone after this treatment.
“This is ground-breaking. I feel as if we are on the edge of something really big here.
“The vaccine makes the immune system go after the cancer.”
“It will be life-changing because it means that potentially, patients may not need to have surgery – they may just have the vaccine.
“The work we have done here at Royal Surrey is fantastic.
“We are hugely proud to have been involved in this worldwide trial and believe it could be key to treating bowel cancer in the future.”
Royal Surrey’s chief executive Louise Stead expressed:
“We are hugely proud to have been involved in the launch of this ground-breaking new vaccine.
“As the fourth largest cancer centre in the UK, helping to fight cancer is a huge part of what we do.
“This will really provide an opportunity for bowel cancer patients and give them real hope of beating the disease.
“I would like to say a huge well done to Dr Tony Dhillon and everyone associated with this trial for all their hard work.”
Patients undergoing an endoscopy will have a tissue sample assessed to determine their suitability for the trial.
Alternatively, if successful, a larger-scale study will be initiated.