Merck and Moderna to jointly develop personalised cancer vaccine 

Merck has exercised its option to jointly develop and commercialise personalised cancer vaccine (PCV) mRNA-4157/V940 pursuant to the terms of its existing collaboration and license agreement with Moderna.  

mRNA-4157/V940 is currently being evaluated in combination with KEYTRUDA, Merck’s anti-PD-1 therapy, as adjuvant treatment for patients with high-risk melanoma in a Phase II clinical trial being conducted by Moderna. 

Personalised cancer vaccines are designed to prime the immune system so that a patient can generate a tailored antitumor response to their tumor mutation signature to treat their cancer. mRNA-4157/V940 is designed to stimulate an immune response by generating T cell responses based on the mutational signature of a patient’s tumour. 

KEYNOTE-942 is an ongoing randomised, open-label Phase II trial that enrolled 157 patients with high-risk melanoma. Following complete surgical resection, patients were randomized to mRNA-4157/V940 (9 doses every three weeks) and KEYTRUDA (200 mg every three weeks) versus KEYTRUDA alone for approximately one year until disease recurrence or unacceptable toxicity. The primary endpoint is recurrence-free survival, and secondary endpoints include distant metastasis-free survival and overall survival. The Phase II trial is fully enrolled and primary data are expected in the fourth quarter of 2022. 

“We have been collaborating with Merck on PCVs since 2016, and together we have made significant progress in advancing mRNA-4157 as an investigational personalised cancer treatment used in combination with KEYTRUDA,” said Stephen Hoge, President of Moderna. “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. Continuing our strategic alliance with Merck is an important milestone as we continue to grow our mRNA platform with promising clinical programs in multiple therapeutic areas.”   

“This long-term collaboration combining Merck’s expertise in immuno-oncology with Moderna’s pioneering mRNA technology has yielded a novel tailored vaccine approach,” said Dr Eliav Barr, Senior Vice President and Head of Global Clinical Development, Chief Medical Officer at Merck Research Laboratories. “We look forward to working with our colleagues at Moderna to advance mRNA-4157/V940 in combination with KEYTRUDA as it aligns with our strategy to impact early-stage disease.” 

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