Elliot Pfebve, 55, a former aide to the late Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, founder of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has revealed his battle with cancer as he becomes the first patient in England to receive a personalized vaccine against bowel cancer.

Pfebve, who has already undergone surgery and chemotherapy, received the groundbreaking jab at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. “I feel excited. I did some research about the treatment trial. If successful, then it is a medical breakthrough,” he said. He added, “It may help thousands, if not millions of people, so they can have hope and may not experience all I have gone through.”

Following his initial treatment, tests indicated that Pfebve still had fragments of cancerous DNA in his bloodstream, increasing the risk of recurrence. Consequently, he enrolled in a trial for an investigational vaccine developed by German pharmaceutical company BioNTech, utilizing the same mRNA technology as the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid vaccine.

Pfebve was diagnosed with the disease after a routine health check with his GP.

After having a 30cm tumour removed from his large intestine, he was referred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham for chemotherapy and to take part in the clinical trial.

The father-of-four, who is a higher education lecturer, said: “Taking part in this trial tallies with my profession as a lecturer, and as a community-centred person.

“I want to impact other people’s lives positively and help them realise their potential.

“Through the potential of this trial, if it is successful, it may help thousands, if not millions, of people, so they can have hope and may not experience all I have gone through. I hope this will help other people.”

Dr Victoria Kunene, a consultant clinical oncologist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham and principal investigator for the trial, said: “The investigational cancer vaccines are based on mRNA and are created by analysing a patient’s tumour to identify mutations specific to their own cancer.

“Using this information, we can create an individualised investigational cancer vaccine, but it is too early yet to say if these will be successful, though we are extremely hopeful.

“Based on the limited data we currently have of the in-body response to the vaccine, this could prove to be a significant and positive development for patients, but more data is yet needed and we continue to recruit suitable patients to the trial to establish this further.”

bbc, falmouthpacket