HEALTH Hospitals team up to offer new cancer trial
TWO Welsh hospitals have joined forces to offer a pioneering cancer treatment as part of a clinical trial.
For the first time, the Clinical Research Facility (CRF) at the University Hospital of Wales (UHW), Velindre Cancer Centre’s Clinical Trials Unit (CTU) and TC BioPharm Ltd have united to deliver a study looking into an immunotherapy treatment in patients with advanced cancers.
Immunotherapies harness the human immune system to fight cancer, in much the same way as your body might fight a cold.
Without this collaboration, this complex new treatment would not have been available to patients in Wales.
This Phase IIb clinical trial is looking into a new form of targeted, cell therapy treatment for patients with solid tumours by using the body’s own lymphocytes to try and boost the immune system into destroying the cancer cells.
The study will look how safe the ImmuniCell treatment is, whether it has anti-cancer activity and also how a patient’s immune response changes following treatment.
This study is being offered to patients with melanoma, renal cell cancer or non-small cell lung cancer in the hope that boosting the body’s natural immune system can fight cancer cells. If this early phase trial is successful then it is hoped that more patients can receive this type of treatment.
The first patient in Wales has been successfully enrolled into this study and it’s hoped many more will follow.
The leukapheresis team in the department of haematology at UHW successfully obtained cells of a high enough quality from the patient to enable the company – TC BioPharm – to manufacture ImmuniCell for a full course of treatment.
Due to the nature of early phase clinical trials, researchers are not yet sure what impact this treatment will have on the patient’s cancer, and only when a larger number of patients are treated will the trial be able to assess early signs of activity.
Dr Rob Jones, who leads Phase 1 Clinical Trials at Velindre, said: “This is a very exciting time and will hopefully open doors for future successful collaborations enabling us to offer more complex studies to patients in Wales.
“A collaboration of this nature has been discussed for many years between both teams, and we are proud to have to come together to deliver this study together with TC BioPharm which will we hope will help improve future anti-cancer treatments.”
The Wales Cancer Research Centre was instrumental in bringing the two sites together.
Dr Steve Knapper, who is investigating the trial at the Clinical Research Facility, said: “This case proves that by successful working together and collaborating within healthcare you can potentially have a positive impact into the health and wellbeing of patients in Wales.
“Both research and development departments at Velindre Cancer Centre and University Hospital of Wales were instrumental in making this collaboration possible.
“Many teams have pulled together to offer patients a new treatment that we hope will lead to improved patient treatments and outcomes.”
The ambition is to increase the number of early phase studies open in Wales to give Welsh patients more treatment options closer to home.