Adding Moderna’s investigational cancer vaccine to standard treatment for melanoma dramatically reduces the risk of death or recurrence in cancer survivors, according to newly shared trial data.
Challenge: How to treat melanoma — the deadliest type of skin cancer — Doctors usually start by surgically removing as much of the cancer as possible. Other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, may then be given to kill any missed cancer cells.
Even if the cancer is then gone, there is always a chance that the melanoma will come back, and certain types of melanoma are considered. high risk of recurrenceThis includes those that are particularly thick or that have metastasized (spread to other parts of the body) before treatment.
“That’s a pretty significant improvement, a pretty dramatic improvement compared to standard treatment.”
of cancer vaccine: Moderna and pharmaceutical giant Merck are developing mRNA-4157 (V940), an mRNA-based cancer vaccine for people who have had high-risk melanoma removed.
The vaccine works by instructing the body to produce up to 34 different “neoantigens.” These are proteins found only on cancer cells, and Moderna will customize the vaccine for each recipient, delivering instructions to neoantigens on cancer cells. their cancer cell.
The idea behind vaccines is that by prompting the body to produce these proteins, it can prime the immune system to quickly identify and attack new cancer cells that carry them and prevent recurrence. That’s what it means.
what’s new? In the ongoing Phase 2b KEYNOTE-942 trial, Moderna and Merck are testing the cancer vaccine’s ability to prevent melanoma recurrence or death when used in combination with Merck’s FDA-approved cancer treatment, Keytruda. compared to Keytruda alone.
In 2022, they reported that the combination therapy reduced the risk of recurrence or death by 44% in high-risk patients compared with Keytruda alone during two years after treatment.
they are now announced People who received both treatments were 49% less likely to experience recurrence or death a median of three years after treatment compared to those in the Keytruda-only group. He was also 62% less likely to experience distant metastasis or death.
“The durability of the response is very strong. During this period, the response is essentially rock-solid,” said Moderna President Stephen Hoge. told Reuters. “This is a pretty significant improvement, and a pretty dramatic improvement over the standard of care with Keytruda alone.”
Future prospects: KEYNOTE-942 Although the study is relatively small, with just 157 participants, Moderna and Merck have already Phase 3 trial started Combination cancer treatment study involving more than 1,000 high-risk melanoma patients.
The companies are also looking beyond melanoma. launch Phase 3 trials are underway to test a cancer vaccine in patients with non-small cell lung cancer, and if these trials are successful, it may not be long before personalized treatments reach patients. .
“We believe this product could be available under accelerated approval in some countries by 2025,” said Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel. he told AFP..
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