Cancer vaccine shows sustained improvement in survival rates


Cancer vaccine mRNA-4157 (V940) in combination with Keytruda reduced the risk of recurrence or death by 49% in patients with resected high-risk melanoma, according to follow-up data presented at ASCO 2024.

The combination therapy was also shown to reduce the risk of distant metastasis or death by 62% compared to Keytruda alone in these patients.

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, said the melanoma trial results were “extremely impressive”, adding: “The new vaccine approach is another piece of the puzzle that will allow more patients to be cured, hopefully, or fewer patients to suffer disease relapse. Ultimately it will contribute to survival rates improving continually over the next decades and more.”

The follow-up of the Phase IIb study took place 34.9 months after initial treatment. It showed that the 2.5-year recurrence-free survival rate of mRNA-4157 with Keytruda was 74.8% compared to 55.6% for Keytruda alone.

Ongoing cancer clinical trials

Kyle Holen, Moderna’s Senior Vice President and Head of Development, Therapeutics and Oncology, said: “These findings reinforce our commitment to advancing this innovative treatment in collaboration with Merck, and we are dedicated to harnessing mRNA technology to potentially transform cancer therapy and improve patient outcomes.”

The companies have initiated Phase III studies in patients with high-risk melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer, in addition to Phase II studies in patients with renal cell carcinoma and urothelial carcinoma and a Phase II/III study for cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.

The global Phase III clinical trial is being led by University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in the UK and will include around 1,100 people.

“The sustained improvements in recurrence-free survival and distant metastasis-free survival observed at approximately three years in the KEYNOTE-942/mRNA-4157-P201 study provide further support of the potential of mRNA-4157 (V940) in combination with Keytruda to help patients with resected high-risk melanoma,” said Dr Marjorie Green, Senior Vice President and Head of Oncology, Global Clinical Development, Merck Research Laboratories.

Moderna recently secured FDA approval for the first mRNA vaccine to treat something other than Covid-19 – it’s respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) vaccine mRESVIA (mRNA-1345).

Diana Spencer, Senior Digital Content Editor, DDW

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