Merck and Co. pharmaceutical company has a new personalized cancer vaccine from Moderna in human trials. If it’s successful, the world could soon have the first ever cancer vaccine.
The new vaccine is designed to fight melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Instead of preventing a person from getting a disease, the mRNA-4157/V940 teaches your immune system how to fight off melanoma tumors based on an individual’s cancer markers.
To make a personalized cancer vaccine (PCV), scientists take samples of a patient’s mutated melanoma cells. Using gene sequencing, they can identify which antigens will trigger an immune response. With this information the scientists can create a personalized mRNA vaccine to instruct the person’s body to combat the tumors with T cells, stopping the cancer’s progress.
Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine also used mRNA technology to teach a body to identify and fight off an unfamiliar disease. Now, companies are looking at other uses for mRNA vaccines, from food allergies, to heart troubles, to dementia.
Merck and Moderna first agreed to work together on a cancer vaccine in 2016. Six years later, Merck is exercising its option to the Moderna research, which is a very promising sign. Right now, 157 patients are in the Phase 2 clinical trials. Some are being treated with a combination of mRNA-4157/V940 and Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda. Others are only receiving Keytruda. More data may be available by the end of the year.
“Together we have made significant progress in advancing mRNA-4157 as an investigational personalized cancer treatment used in combination with KEYTRUDA,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna, as reported by Dornob. “With data expected this quarter on PCV, we continue to be excited about the future and the impact mRNA can have as a new treatment paradigm in the management of cancer.”
Both Merck and Moderna stand to make a ton of money and, hopefully, improve people’s health and save many lives if the new vaccine proves effective.
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