Moderna Soars After Cancer Vaccine Collab With Merck Meets Primary Endpoint In Phase 2B Trial

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Dec 13, 2022 - 12:56 PM

A new Moderna cancer vaccine, when paired with Merck's Keytruda, produced a positive clinical outcome in a mid-stage trial, the company announced this morning.

The drug combination provided a statistically significant result in stopping the recurrence of the skin cancer melanoma after surgery in patients, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday morning.

The news sent Moderna shares soaring higher by more than 7% in early morning trading.

The results haven’t been reviewed by independent scientists yet, the report says. They could be the first bellweather for the effectiveness of mRNA vaccines that seek to treat diseases instead of preventing infections. 

The implications of the vaccine working could be profound for Moderna, as they could mark the first major branch out in the company's business from Covid-19 vaccines. 

The two companies - who have collaborated together for years - say that the next step is to run a larger study next year to confirm the combination’s safety and efficacy. That study could be the only major milestone left between the technology and regulatory approval. 

Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel said: “We don’t want to waste time. Given the data is so strong, for me it’s a Covid-like moment." 

He continued: "Today's results are highly encouraging for the field of cancer treatment. mRNA has been transformative for COVID-19, and now, for the first time ever, we have demonstrated the potential for mRNA to have an impact on outcomes in a randomized clinical trial in melanoma." 

"We will begin additional studies in melanoma and other forms of cancer with the goal of bringing truly individualized cancer treatments to patients. We look forward to publishing the full data set and sharing the results at an upcoming oncology medical conference, as well as with health authorities," he added.

Dr. Dean Y. Li, president, Merck Research Laboratories, added: "These positive findings represent an important milestone in our collaboration with Moderna. Over the last six years, our teams have worked closely together combining our respective expertise in mRNA and immuno-oncology with a focus on improving outcomes for patients with cancer. We look forward to advancing this program into the next phase of development."

The next step for the two companies is to test the technology in other types of cancers. And you can let the Merck/Moderna M&A rumor mill start churning any day now...