Moderna, Merck join forces to develop cancer vaccine

Moderna and Merck entered an agreement Oct. 12 to develop, manufacture and sell personalized cancer vaccine candidates. 

The two drugmakers have been collaborators since 2016, but under the amended agreement, Merck will pay Moderna $250 million before the end of 2022's third quarter. They will equally share costs and profits, according to a news release. 

Moderna's vaccine candidate mRNA-4157/V940 is currently being tested in a phase 2 trial alongside Merck's immunotherapy treatment Keytruda, which is approved to treat multiple cancers. 

Cancer vaccines tailored to one person, also called neoantigen vaccines, have previously shown positive results in small, preliminary trials, but the commercial market is about five years away from seeing them approved, researchers predict. 

Amazon recently joined the race for a cancer vaccine after partnering with Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in July to launch a clinical trial. Cancer vaccine data is in its early phases, with researchers studying a plethora of potential routes.

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