Biotech titan Moderna has reported that its personalized cancer vaccine candidate has passed through a highly promising mid-stage study of skin cancer patients, driving home that its messenger RNA tech is indeed capable of revolutionary achievements, even after its crucial role in bringing effective COVID-19 vaccines to the public on an abbreviated timeline.
The company’s success propelled its stock price up 21% on the Tuesday following the announcement.
The aforementioned skin-cancer study saw 157 patients with melanomas be treated with either just Merck’s Keytruda cancer drug as a control or a combination of Keytruda and Moderna’s mRNA vaccine, which is designed case-by-case to react to the unique DNA of each patient’s tumor through an automated laboratory process. mRNA is used to essentially “enter” immune cells and instruct them to prioritize the production of certain proteins for fighting specific cancers.
Those receiving the vaccine had a 44% reduction in cancer recurrence rate as well as death compared to those in the control group.
"This could be as big as Keytruda or bigger," said Moderna Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel. "Now we are an oncology company . . . and we might be one of the biggest oncology companies down the road."
Bancel touts the mRNA approach as a core factor in the company’s recent string of successes, but says the threshold for advancement of a cancer vaccine could surpass that of COVID-19 treatment.