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mRNA skin cancer therapy halves risk of death in clinical trial

Date: 3.1.2024 

Moderna has announced the results of a Phase 2b trial investigating its mRNA treatment for skin cancer, and it continues a streak of promising news. When paired with an immunotherapy, the treatment significantly reduced the risks of recurrence, metastasis and death compared to existing treatments alone, paving the way for trials against other cancers.

Kredit: Fletcher, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0.Known as mRNA-4157 (V940), Moderna’s melanoma drug is an individualized neoantigen therapy. Essentially, that means the drug is personally designed for each patient, by studying the unique mutational signature of the DNA sequence of their tumors. From this, the scientists develop mRNA that codes for a specific cocktail of up to 34 neoantigens that can best target that patient’s cancer, training their body’s immune system to fight it off.

The current trial enrolled 157 patients with high-risk stage III/IV melanoma to test the effectiveness of mRNA-4157 (V940). After their tumors were surgically removed, the patients were split into two groups – one that received a combo of the mRNA drug and KEYTRUDA, an immunotherapy drug from biotech company Merck, while the second group received just KEYTRUDA alone.

The trial found that at a median follow-up of three years, patients receiving both drugs had their risk of cancer recurrence or death reduced by 49% compared to those receiving just KEYTRUDA. Better yet, the risk of distant metastasis or death was reduced by 62% compared to KEYTRUDA alone.

Image source: Fletcher, Wikimedia CommonsCC BY-SA 4.0.




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