The same mRNA technology used in a COVID vaccine could significantly improve survival in patients with an aggressive form of skin cancer, according to new results.
Melanoma patients were 44 percent less likely to die or have their cancer come back if they also received an existing immunotherapy drug called Keytruda, according to data released by the biotech company Moderna.
The personalized vaccine is made using genetic material from an individual patient’s tumor cells, enabling their immune system to be alert to the first signs of cancer recurrence.
The phase 2 trial involved 157 patients with advanced stage 3 or 4 melanoma who had previously undergone surgery to remove the tumor.
The patient received nine doses of the vaccine, code-named mRNA-4157/V940, over a period of more than a year.
Moderna and Merck, which makes Keytruda, will start a larger late-stage clinical trial next year.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, said: “Today’s results are very encouraging for the field of cancer treatment.
“mRNA has been transformative for COVID-19, and now, for the first time ever, we have demonstrated the potential of mRNA to impact the outcome of a randomized clinical trial in melanoma.”
Response ‘very exciting’
Scientists are optimistic that mRNA vaccines will improve survival rates for many currently intractable cancers.
Earlier this year, Sky News reveals promising results from vaccine trial A head and neck cancer patient at Liverpool Clatbridge Hospital.
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Professor Andrew Beggs, MRC Senior Clinical Research Fellow and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon at the University of Birmingham, said: “Using game-changing mRNA vaccine technology to increase response to immunotherapy drugs is very exciting.
“Although early data, it is encouraging that this may be an effective treatment option.
“This advance is likely to have important implications for future patients with metastatic cancer and opens up a new avenue of treatment for these patients.”