Vaccine therapy from Merck, Moderna may cut risk of skin cancer recurrence in half

Results from a phase 2 trial found a drug-vaccine combination developed by Merck and Moderna cut the risk of recurrence or death in patients with severe melanomas by 49%.

The experimental therapy involves an mRNA vaccine from Moderna in combination with Merck's cancer drug Keytruda. Patients with resected stage 3 or 4 melanoma who received the combination therapy were 49% less likely to die or have their cancer return within three years, compared to those who received only Keytruda.

The findings build on results from an earlier phase study that followed patients for two years, the drugmakers said in a Dec. 14 news release. 

"We've now answered the one remaining scientific question: Is this benefit short-lived or is it going to be durable?" Moderna President Stephen Hoge, MD, told Bloomberg

Moderna and Merck started a phase 3 trial in July. Dr. Hoge told Bloomberg the trial could take up to four years to confirm earlier stage results, though federal regulators could move to make the treatment available to some patients sooner. 

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