Moderna cancer vaccine used with Merck Keytruda reduces risk of deadly skin cancer spreading

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Moderna‘s experimental cancer vaccine, used in combination with Merck‘s Keytruda, reduced the risk of the most deadly form of skin cancer spreading to other parts of the body in a clinical trial, according to the midstage trial results published on Monday.

Moderna’s cancer vaccine reduced the risk of melanoma spreading to other parts of the body or death by 65% in patients with stage three or four of the disease compared to patients who received Merck’s immunotherapy treatment alone, the trial has found.

Moderna and Merck will present the data at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s annual conference in Chicago at 5 p.m. ET.

The clinical trial has enrolled 157 patients who have had their cancer surgically removed.

Patients in the treatment group receive 1 mg injections of Moderna’s vaccine every three weeks for nine total doses and 200 mg intravenous infusions of Keytruda every three weeks for about a year.

Melanoma is responsible for the large majority of skin cancer deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. The rate of melanoma has increased rapidly over the past few decades, according to the society.

About 100,000 people will be diagnosed with melanoma in the U.S. this year and nearly 8,000 people are expected to die from the disease, according to the society.

The data published Monday are the latest promising results from Moderna and Merck.

The companies published data in April that showed Moderna’s cancer vaccine in combination with Keytruda reduced the risk of melanoma recurring by 44% compared to patients who received Merck’s immunotherapy treatment alone.

The Food and Drug Administration gave Moderna and Merck a breakthrough therapy designation in February, which is intended to speed up the development and review of treatments for serious and life-threatening diseases.

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