Experimental cancer vaccine combined with immunotherapy delayed return of melanoma, Moderna & Merck say

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According to the American Cancer Society, melanoma accounts for about 1% of all skin cancers, but it causes a majority of skin cancer deaths. Photo: Pexels


(Jamie Gumbrecht/ CNN News) — New data from a trial of an investigational mRNA vaccine shows that it reduced the risk of recurrence of the serious skin cancer melanoma when combined with immunotherapy, according to drugmakers Moderna and Merck.

In a trial of 157 people who had had surgery to treat melanoma, 78.6% of those who received the personalized vaccine and the immunotherapy Keytruda were free of cancer at 18 months, while 62.2% of people who got only the immunotherapy were recurrence-free. Cancer recurrence or death happened in 22.4% – 24 out of 107 – who received the combination treatment and 40% – 20 out of 50 – who received only the immunotherapy.

No serious side effects from the experimental vaccine have been reported. The most common side effects were fatigue, injection site pain and chills.

Dr. Kyle Holen, Moderna’s senior vice president and head of development, therapeutics and oncology, said in a statement that the results “provide further encouragement for the potential of mRNA” for people with melanoma, and it “may be a novel means of potentially extending the lives of patients.” (…)

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