On Tuesday, the price of Moderna stock rose by 24%.
In a Phase 2 trial, the business Moderna announced early on Tuesday that combining their novel Combining Keytruda from Merck’s normal dosage with a messenger RNA-based cancer vaccine significantly lowered the chance of death or recurrence of cancer in high-risk melanoma patients.
The findings constitute a substantial justification for Moderna (NASDAQ:MRNA) and a step in the business’s aspirations to move beyond its current position as a Covid-19 vaccine company.
It could be the beginning of a significant shift in cancer treatment, in which mRNA-based personalized cancer vaccines are given in combination with established checkpoint inhibitors like Keytruda. Suppose the results hold up in a planned Phase 3 trial in the same category of patients, and similar tests are expected in other indications. In that case, it could represent the beginning of a significant shift in cancer treatment.
Shortly before the clinical trial findings were revealed on Monday, Stephane Bancel, the Chief Executive Officer of Moderna, was quoted in Barron’s as saying, “I think this is as big of a step for patients as Keytruda was.”
The clinical trial included 157 participants with high-risk melanoma who had previously undergone surgery to remove a tumor. The participants in the trial were randomly assigned to one of two groups: one group received only Keytruda, an immuno-oncology drug developed by Merck (MRK) that revolutionized the treatment of cancer when it was first introduced in 2014, and the other group received Keytruda in addition to mRNA-4157, a personalized cancer vaccine developed by Moderna. The trial was carried out on one hundred and fifty patients.
Patients who received mRNA-4157 in addition to Keytruda had a mortality risk or recurrence risk that was 44% lower than those who received Keytruda on its own. The result was significant according to the statistics.
According to Bancel, “the tailored cancer vaccination cut your risk of relapse by virtually half.”
Moderna and Merck will conduct a Phase 3 clinical trial of the combination in the same indication. Bancel stated that the corporations are currently conversing with the authorities regarding the subsequent measures.
Since 2016, Merck and Moderna have worked together on developing tailored cancer vaccines. In October, Merck revealed that it had exercised an option to develop mRNA-4157 jointly. The company also indicated that the firm would publish the results of the melanoma trial during the fourth quarter of this year.
On the day that the announcement was made in October, shares of Moderna traded up 8.3%, which shows that investors may have already priced in a positive trial result and that any reaction on Tuesday could be subdued if they have already priced it in.
According to Moderna, tailoring MRNA-4157 to each patient’s unique tumor can be completed in at least a few weeks. The idea behind combining the two treatments is that Keytruda will boost the immune response built by the patient’s T-cells. At the same time, MRNA-4157 will assist in directing the T-cells to the tumor. This is the fundamental premise underlying the matching of the two drugs.
Suppose the strategy is successful in treating melanoma. In that case, it will also be successful in treating other indications. Bancel stated that the team’s “opinion that we have…is that all the tumor types where Keytruda has a beneficial impact on patients, we believe our method should have the same”
The personalized cancer vaccine contains particular proteins, but other than that, mRNA-4157 is the same as the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine, which has been used hundreds of millions of times across the world. Bancel stated that the chemistry involving mRNA was the same. “Same lipid. The same approach is intramuscular. The identical method of production.”
Bancel stated that the company is currently scaling up to be able to produce enough vaccines for its Phase 3 trials. Although Moderna has been producing personalized cancer vaccines for its clinical trial program in Norwood, Massachusetts, Bancel stated that the company can now do so. He mentioned that the business is now investing in growing up in preparation for an eventual commercial launch.
Moderna Stock is Increasing
Moderna’s share price has decreased by 35.2% this year. The Covid-19 vaccine is the only medicine the firm has ever approved. Even though it has a robust pipeline, the share price has suffered due to the falling demand for vaccines worldwide. According to Bancel, the findings of the study of the tailored cancer vaccine indicate the depth of the company’s pipeline.
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