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National brain tumour research funding needs to increase to £35 million a year

UK production for GBM vaccine begins

Maryland-based Northwest Biotherapeutics has announced production has begun of its first dendritic cell cancer vaccine for compassionate use treatment of a glioblastoma patient at its recently-licensed UK production facility in Sawston.

Linda F. Powers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Northwest Biotherapeutics said: “At Northwest Biotherapeutics, we are excited that our advanced manufacturing facility is now operational in Sawston, where we are able to make “Advanced Therapy Medicinal Products” (ATMPs) such as our personalised dendritic cell vaccines for compassionate use brain cancer patients. This is a state-of-the-art facility and is the culmination of years of investment and development by teams of engineers, technicians, scientists and regulatory experts.  

“ATMPs comprise cell therapies and gene therapies – including immune cell therapies for cancer. The first immune cell therapies are already reaching patients or in clinical trials in various cancers, and such therapies may offer new hope for brain cancer patients too. 

“Efforts such as Brain Tumour Research’s campaigns for research funding and for attention to brain cancer (particularly through the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Brain Tumours that Brain Tumour Research provides the secretariat for) are essential to support the early-stage science that develops into novel therapies such as ATMPs. Such efforts are particularly important for brain cancer because of the complexity of brain tumours and their extensive variation from patient to patient.

“Today, thanks to this research, there is growing knowledge about the sub-types of brain cancers, the genetic and molecular profiles, and the correlation between certain tumour characteristics and the course that brain cancer follows. This knowledge will help the fight to defeat brain tumours… including through ATMP treatments such as personalised cancer vaccines.”

Dr Helen Bulbeck from partner charity brainstrust said: “Over time the cost of the vaccine will come down once the production is established but will most likely be out of reach for the majority even then. The hope is that this will become standard of care - so available on the NHS - but this will take time. We are always pleased to hear news of potential new therapeutics but to get them to benefit the majority of patients remains costly and needs the buy-in of a number of key stakeholders.”

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