the pharmaceutical company modernwho became famous for ARM Messenger’s vaccines against COVID-19, delivered encouraging news about a vaccine they are working to stop skin cancer.
The company reported in a release that among 157 people with stage 3 or stage 4 melanoma, a personalized cancer vaccine Moderna developed with Merck, created using mRNA genetic material from each patient’s respective tumors, reduced the risk of recurrence or death by 44% compared to standard care.
“For the first time, we have evidence that it is possible to develop a functional immune response that can treat patients’ cancer from a randomized controlled trial,” says Dr. Stephen Hoge, President of Moderna.
In the study, patients were randomly assigned to receive one of two treatments. One group was treated with the drug pembrolizumab, or Keytruda, an existing drug that releases the brakes the immune system normally has on attacking cancer cells, since cancer cells grow from the body’s own cells. The other group received Keytruda and a personalized cancer vaccine using mRNA technology. All of the patients underwent surgery to remove their melanoma, and for the vaccine group, Moderna scientists biopsied and genetically sequenced those tumors, then identified nearly three dozen genetic and personalized tumor flags, in the form of mRNA, for each patient’s immune system would recognize them. They were then combined and injected into the arms of patients, in the same way that the COVID-19 vaccine delivered instructions to target the virus’s spike protein genes. Except in this case, the immune system was trained to attack and destroy melanoma cells instead of a virus.
It is much easier for the immune system to catch a virus and prevent a viral infection than it is to destroy the cancer,” says Hoge. “Therefore, many more doses are needed for the immune system to develop with adequate strength and force against the antigens.” [del cáncer] to affect a patient’s cancer.”