An mRNA Vaccine For Preventing Melanoma Could Be Here In 2025

Moderna and Merck join forces for melanoma vaccine development.

Moderna and Merck have teamed up to develop an mRNA vaccine for melanoma. The latest findings from a phase 2b trial combining Moderna’s mRNA vaccine (known as mRNA-4157 or V940) with Merck’s cancer drug KEYTRUDA show promise in treating melanoma.

The study focused on patients with high-risk melanoma (stage III/IV) who had undergone complete resection. The results from the mid-term data, presented after a 3-year follow-up, offer encouraging news for the treatment of this challenging cancer.

Key findings from the trial show that combining mRNA-4157with pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA) led to a significant improvement in recurrence-free survival compared to pembrolizumab alone. Specifically, the risk of recurrence or death was reduced by 49% with the combined treatment.

Additionally, the combination therapy demonstrated a notable improvement in distant metastasis-free survival, lowering the risk of developing distant metastasis or death by 62% compared to pembrolizumab alone.

The combined treatment didn’t result in more severe side effects compared to pembrolizumab alone. The incidence of grade 3 or greater treatment-related adverse events was similar between the groups.

Dr. Kyle Holen, Moderna’s senior vice president, commented, “The study marks a significant milestone as the first demonstration of efficacy for an investigational mRNA cancer treatment in a randomised clinical trial. It’s also the first combination therapy to show a significant benefit over pembrolizumab alone in adjuvant melanoma.”

Looking ahead, Moderna and Merck have announced the initiation of a phase 3 trial to further evaluate the vaccine in combination with pembrolizumab for adjuvant treatment in patients with high-risk resected melanoma (stages IIB-IV).

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