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BioNTech to Provide Personal Cancer Immunotherapies in UK

Vials and bottles

(National Cancer Institute, Unsplash)

6 Jan. 2023. The biotechnology company BioNTech SE is partnering with the U.K. government to provide up to 10,000 personalized cancer immunotherapy treatments by 2030. The company, based in Mainz, Germany, says the cancer immunotherapies are part of an agreement to expand its presence in the U.K., including investments in new research labs.

BioNTech is a pioneer in developing therapies for infectious diseases and cancer with synthetic messenger RNA or mRNA, the nucleic acid carrying coding instructions for proteins to cells. The company is best known for its collaboration with drug maker Pfizer to develop a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 disease in record time. But as reported in Science & Enterprise as early as Sept. 2016, BioNTech is also a developer of personalized cancer immunotherapies based on mRNA.

The company says it now develops personalized treatments for solid-tumor cancers with engineered cells, antibodies, and small molecule drugs, as well as mRNA. BioNTech says its treatment personalization technology is based on a combination of patient profiles, diagnostics, machine learning algorithms, and other bioinformatics and computational techniques. The company says it employs these techniques to increase the success rate of cancer immunotherapies to address varying immune system conditions and counteract resistance. BioNTech says it now has 15 cancer product candidates in 18 clinical trials addressing 20 types of solid-tumor cancers.

Employ 70 researchers plus support staff

In their agreement, the U.K. Department of Health and BioNTech expect to accelerate their clinical trial plans, including site identification and patient recruitment for personalized cancer immunotherapies and infectious disease vaccines. Through expanded clinical trials and eventually approved treatments, BioNTech says it will provide as many as 10,000 patients with individualized cancer immunotherapies by 2030. The U.K. Department of Health says it will offer its current clinical trial networks in the National Health Service and research on cancer diagnostics by the Genomics England institute. The new trials are expected to begin recruitment in the second half of this year.

“This partnership will mean that, from as early as September,” says Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Steve Barclay in a department statement, “our patients will be among the first to participate in trials and tests to provide targeted, personalized and precision treatments using transformative new therapies to both treat the existing cancer and help stop it returning.”

BioNTech and Department of Health plan to sign the memorandum of understanding today. As part of the agreement, BioNTech will establish a research and development center in Cambridge, U.K. The company anticipates the new labs will employ up to 70 researchers as well as other support staff and begin by the end of March 2023.

“Our goal is to accelerate the development of immunotherapies and vaccines using technologies we have been researching for over 20 years,” says BioNTech co-founder and CEO Ugur Sahin in a company statement. “The collaboration will cover various cancer types and infectious diseases affecting collectively hundreds of millions of people worldwide.” Sahin adds, “This agreement is a result of the lessons learnt from the Covid-19 pandemic as we all experience that drug development can be accelerated without cutting corners if everyone works seamlessly together towards the same goal.”

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Disclosure: The author owns shares in Pfizer.

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