Home Top Global NewsHealthcare ‘Paradigm shift’ in cancer treatment as Moderna’s vaccine shows promise – POLITICO

‘Paradigm shift’ in cancer treatment as Moderna’s vaccine shows promise – POLITICO

by Ozva Admin
‘Paradigm shift’ in cancer treatment as Moderna’s vaccine shows promise – POLITICO

The technology that saved the day during the COVID-19 pandemic is about to do the same for cancer.

Preliminary results from Moderna’s ongoing trial of a personalized mRNA cancer vaccine administered in conjunction with an MSD immunotherapy showed a “statistically and clinically significant reduction in the risk of disease recurrence or death,” the company said Tuesday. .

Positive results from the phase 2b trial that tested the vaccine’s efficacy and safety pave the way for the final stage of research and then, potentially, for future approval of the first mRNA cancer vaccine.

Moderna became a household name during the pandemic when its mRNA vaccine became one of two vaccines of choice for many countries. But while the company delivered hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines around the world, it was also working on trials of its portfolio of different types of cancer vaccines, including one that targets specific gene mutations.

Leading the pack is the company’s personalized cancer vaccine. The vaccine, which is delivered together with Merck’s Keytruda immunotherapy, is intended to stimulate an immune response based on a patient’s specific tumor. Keytruda then helps the patient’s immune cells fight the cancer more effectively. The hope was that by working together, the vaccine and immunotherapy could “bring the power of the immune system to fight cancer and kill it,” Moderna’s chief medical officer, Paul Burton, said in an interview with POLITICO.

While the current trial is testing the vaccine for melanoma, Moderna is planning additional studies to test it in other types of cancer. Speaking before the results were published, Burton said that if the trial was successful it would be “a new paradigm shift, [a] Fundamental change that we have not seen for at least a decade, in a new therapeutic approach for cancer.”

Those hopes appear to have been realized. Preliminary results published today from the trial of 157 melanoma patients indicate that the risk of cancer recurrence or death was 44% lower in those who received the vaccine and Keytruda compared to those who received immunotherapy alone. The next step is to publish the full data set and start discussions with regulators. Moderna and MSD plan to start the largest Phase 3 trial, which will test effectiveness in more people, in 2023 and “will rapidly expand to additional tumor types.”

Cancer is the next major target for mRNA injections, with companies like Moderna and BioNTech working to test that their vaccines can outperform existing immunotherapies delivered alone and provide value to cash-strapped healthcare systems.

Cancer as a chronic disease

What makes mRNA technology unique is that it can bring together 20 to 30 antigens, substances that trigger an immune response in the body. That’s critical to the potential success of the vaccine, as it means the immune system displays a whole range of antigens that the tumor is expressing. “I can’t imagine how you can do that with any other technology,” Burton said.

Unlike Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, which is “off the shelf” and not tailored to each individual patient, Moderna’s personalized cancer vaccine is “extremely complex,” Burton said, as “it’s really doing a medicine for each individual person”.

The objective? For certain patients in the earliest stage of their disease, the hope is that treatment could potentially prevent the disease from progressing. In patients with more advanced disease, the desire is to extend their life, and their cancer becomes a kind of chronic disease.

“We hope that if we can actually test this, it will be a fundamental change in the way that, at least for certain types of cancer, we treat them and the clinical benefit could be really profound,” Burton said.

The other factor is the side effects. Or rather, the relative lack of them compared to, for example, chemotherapy drugs. “If you can get real clinical benefit with a really manageable safety profile, I really think it could be transformational,” said the chief medical officer. Tuesday’s main results indicate that the adverse events were consistent with those reported in the phase 1 trial, which found the vaccine had an acceptable safety profile.

One of the main obstacles of immunotherapies is the price. There is concern that the same could happen with mRNA cancer vaccines. While these kinds of decisions are some way off, it is a concern that Sam Godfrey, senior manager of research information at Cancer Research UK (CRUK), previously expressed concern on.

“If something is costing a million pounds per treatment for a personalized vaccine, and its efficacy is not much better than standard chemotherapy, which doesn’t cost much, you have that decision about, really, is this worth investing in? Godfrey said earlier this year.

Moderna’s Burton said he had not yet been in discussions about pricing. But he argued that mRNA has “great potential” to bring value to many people around the world. “We want to bring equitable healthcare to people around the world,” he said. “So we want to work with governments and taxpayers to do that, but I think it’s premature to really think about the price yet.”

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