In a recent trial, a new melanoma vaccine, mRNA-4157 (V940), when taken in combination with Keytruda (pembrolizumab), was found to be effective in battling the deadly skin cancer.

People with advanced melanomas who received the vaccine plus Merck’s cancer drug Keytruda were 49 percent less likely to die or have their cancer return after three years than those who were given only Keytruda, vaccine maker Moderna Inc. announced.

“Importantly for this technology, the… study was the first demonstration of efficacy for an investigational mRNA cancer treatment in a randomized clinical trial and the first combination therapy to show a significant benefit over Keytruda alone in adjuvant melanoma,” Moderna Senior Vice President Kyle Holen, M.D., said in a company news release. “We look forward to sharing these data with people impacted by this disease and the broader scientific community.”

The findings are based on an ongoing randomized trial involving 157 patients with high-risk stage 3/4 melanoma who first had surgery to completely remove cancerous growths. Patients received 1 mg of the mRNA vaccine every three weeks for a total of nine doses, along with 200 mg of Keytruda every three weeks for about a year. Their outcomes were compared to those using Keytruda alone for approximately a year.

The companies have already begun Phase III trials of the vaccine-drug combo, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has designated the treatment as a breakthrough therapy to speed its development and review.


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