A vaccine shows promising results in treating the deadliest form of skin cancer, Moderna and Merck announced Thursday.
Those with severe melanomas who received Merck's vaccine and cancer drug Keytruda were 49% less likely to die or have their cancer return after three years than those who received Keytruda alone, the biotech companies said in a report. release. release.
The findings are based on an ongoing randomized trial involving 157 patients with high-risk stage III/IV melanoma who underwent surgery for the first time to completely remove cancerous growths. Patients received one milligram of the mRNA vaccine every three weeks for nine doses and 200 milligrams of Keytruda every three weeks for about a year, compared to Keytruda alone for about a year.
The companies have begun Phase 3 trials of mRNA-4157 with Keytruda for people with stage III and IV melanoma. Earlier this year, the Food and Drug Administration designated the treatment as a breakthrough therapy to accelerate the development and review of drugs intended to treat life-threatening diseases.
“We look forward to sharing these data with people affected by the disease and the broader scientific community,” said Kyle Holen, MD, senior vice president and head of development, therapeutics and oncology at Moderna.
The results are a vindication of sorts for Moderna's strategy of developing new uses for the messenger RNA technology used in its COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts saying In November it anticipates a sharp drop in revenue next year, fueling concerns about its ability to finance multiple product launches. planned for 2024 and 2025.
Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and melanoma accounts for only about 1% of skin cancer cases in the U.S. That said, it causes a vast majority of skin cancer deaths, according to to the American Cancer Society. It is estimated that around 97,610 new melanomas will be diagnosed in the United States this year, resulting in 7,990 deaths.
Moderna shares have plummeted this year, falling 50%. On Thursday, its shares soared 12% in midday trading to $87.93.
Shares of Merck, based in Rahway, New Jersey, held firm and fell 0.2% to $106.16.
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