(CTN News) – Moderna and Merck, two prominent pharmaceutical companies in the United States, have announced the results of a clinical trial involving an experimental Moderna mRNA vaccine and Merck’s cancer therapy drug Keytruda.
The trial focused on patients with high-risk stage III/IV melanoma, and after undergoing complete surgical resection of the melanoma, the patients were administered either the vaccine and Keytruda combination or Keytruda alone for a year.
According to Moderna’s recent statement, the trial included 157 patients, and after approximately three years, researchers observed a significant reduction in the risk of cancer recurrence or death among those who received the combination treatment.
The patients who received the vaccine and Keytruda combination showed a remarkable 49% decrease in the likelihood of cancer recurrence or death compared to those who solely received Keytruda.
Furthermore, the combination treatment also demonstrated a substantial 62% reduction in the chances of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body.
This is an encouraging finding that highlights the potential of the Moderna vaccine’s mRNA technology, which, similar to their COVID vaccine, trains the immune system to identify and combat specific mutations in cancer cells.
Merck’s Keytruda drug, on the other hand, is an immunotherapy that enhances the body’s immune system, enabling it to better detect and fight against tumor cells.
The combination of these two innovative approaches has shown promising results in reducing the risk of melanoma recurrence or death, as well as preventing the spread of the cancer to other areas of the body.
This development brings hope for improved treatment options and outcomes for patients with melanoma.
Merck has announced that the drug combination has been granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a result of the trial, aiming to expedite the treatment’s development.
Similarly, the European Medicines Agency, Europe’s drug regulator, has also granted the treatment a comparable designation.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, skin cancer is the most prevalent type of cancer in the United States, with melanoma being the most severe form.
In 2020, there were 77,230 newly reported cases of melanoma, resulting in 8,214 fatalities, as reported by the CDC.