Clinical Merck-Moderna’s Cancer Vaccine Collaboration Yields Positive Results in Mid-Stage...

Merck-Moderna’s Cancer Vaccine Collaboration Yields Positive Results in Mid-Stage Follow-Up Study


In a follow-up study conducted on approximately 160 people, it was discovered that when used in combination with Merck’s cancer treatment Keytruda, Merck and Moderna’s skin cancer therapy improved long-term survival in patients and can be considered a durable treatment plan for a deadly form of skin cancer.

In previous study results released in December, it was observed that patients with melanoma who received the new vaccine in combination with Keytruda were approximately 50% less likely to have their cancer return or to die, compared to those who took Keytruda alone. Additionally, the combination treatment reduced the risk of the disease spreading by over 60% compared to Keytruda alone.

These statistics were calculated roughly three years after the administration of the treatment.

The new follow-up study has provided more evidence of the drug’s durability, showing that when taken in combination with Keytruda, it can increase overall survival by 92% after two and a half years, compared to a 5.8% decrease in overall survival chances for patients who took Keytruda alone.

After the two-and-a-half-year mark, 55.6% of patients who took Keytruda alone were alive without any signs or symptoms of their cancer returning, whereas 75% of those on the dual treatment plan were alive and healthy without any sign of their cancer returning.

Marjorie Green, Merck’s head of global clinical development of oncology, commented on these results, saying, “As we look at the three-year updates, what’s exciting to me is seeing the durability of that data.”

These outcomes were consistent across all subgroups of patients, regardless of whether they had sufficient levels of a protein called PD-L1 or if they had tumors with a large number of mutations.

According to Dr. Kyle Holen, Moderna’s head of development, therapeutics, and oncology, these results indicate that the new combination therapy by Merck and Moderna has the potential to treat a wide spectrum of melanoma patients.

Regarding the drug’s side effects and safety profile, the most common issues identified were injection site pain, chills, and fatigue, described as mild in intensity. However, patients who received the combination therapy faced a slightly greater risk of immune-related side effects.

Merck and Moderna plan to share the results of this study in Chicago at the annual meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology. These results have been particularly helpful for Moderna in boosting investor sentiment after a challenging year due to the decreased demand for its COVID-19 vaccine.

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