Merck and Moderna’s mRNA cancer vaccine is successful in efficacy trial

pharmafile | December 14, 2022 | News story | Research and Development  

Merck & Co and Moderna have partnered to utilise the mRNA technology used to combat COVID-19, however this time the technology is set to be used against cancer and appears promising so far.

Data from a phase 2b trial of the personalised cancer vaccines has been released, following the trial which compared Moderna’s MRNA-4157/V940 vaccine alongside Merck’s immunotherapy, Keytruda (pembrolizumab), to Keytruda alone for the treatment of patients with the skin cancer, melanoma. The data showed that the risk of death or disease progression was reduced by 44% compared to standard of care treatments using Keytruda alone.

The trial assessed the drug to treat Melanoma as it is known to respond to immunotherapies, predominantly due to the high levels of white blood cells within the tumours.

The idea of the vaccine is that it prepares the immune system to fight the tumour cells, while Keytruda stops the immunological ‘brake’ that often protects the cancer.

Jeffrey Weber, principal investigator in the trial, commented: “These data provide the first evidence that we can improve on the rates of recurrence-free survival achieved by PD-1 blockade in resected high-risk melanoma.” He added that the results of the trial also provide proof that a personalised, ‘neoantigen’ vaccine can be used in the treatment of cancer.


Betsy Goodfellow

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