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Moderna and Merck announce promising results in trials of their melanoma vaccine


Trials of therapy against skin cancer with the messenger RNA method, successfully tested with covid, are still in a preliminary phase

Entrance to the offices of Moderna biotech in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Bill Sikes (AP)

Moderna and Merck have announced this Tuesday promising results in their preliminary trials (phase 2b) of their therapy against skin cancer.

Using a Moderna mRNA vaccine (the method used to rapidly develop coronavirus vaccines) combined with Merck's drug Keytrude offers better results than administering the drug alone, both companies have reported.

According to the companies, the risk of recurrence or death is reduced by 44%.

This is an early phase trial, which has not been published in scientific journals or reviewed by independent experts, and it is too early to draw conclusions, but these results point to a further step in the purpose of using the messenger RNA method to treat multiple diseases.

The companies plan to discuss the results with the regulatory authorities and start a phase 3 study in patients with melanoma in 2023. It will be this trial that will allow the efficacy of the therapy to be validated or not.

The function of RNA is to transmit the message of life contained in DNA and convert it into all the proteins that allow us to carry out vital functions.

Messenger RNA vaccines against the coronavirus use the body's cells as bioreactors to produce copies of the coronavirus S protein and these are located by the immune system.

Moderna is using its mRNA technology platform to develop drugs that could treat and prevent infectious diseases such as influenza and HIV, as well as autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and rare forms of cancer, although without conclusive results so far in the case of tumors.

From cancer to cancer

The technique used in this trial, which provokes an immune response through messenger RNA, is the one that was later used to develop vaccines against covid.

As early as 2017, a team led by Ugur Sahin, founder of Biontech, the company behind the Pfizer vaccine, created vaccines targeting up to ten mutations in 13 melanoma patients.

Several of them experienced improvements in their disease, but one of them, who, as in the work announced today, combined the vaccine with anti-PD1 therapy, saw the tumor disappear.

Personalized cancer vaccines are designed to prime the immune system so that the patient can generate a tailored anti-tumor response specific to their tumor type of mutation.

“Today's results are very encouraging for the field of cancer treatment.

mRNA has been determinative for COVID-19, and now, for the first time, we have demonstrated the potential of mRNA to influence the results of a randomized clinical trial in melanoma," said Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, via a statement.

“We will initiate additional studies in melanoma and other forms of cancer with the goal of offering patients truly individualized cancer treatments.

We look forward to publishing the full data set and sharing the results at an upcoming oncology medical congress, as well as with health authorities,” he added.

"These positive results represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Moderna," said Dr. Dean Y. Li, President of Merck Research Laboratories.

“Over the past six years, our teams have collaborated closely, combining our respective expertise in mRNA and immuno-oncology with the goal of improving outcomes for cancer patients.

We are looking forward to moving this program into the next phase of development.”

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-12-13

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