RNA cancer vaccine successfully passes clinical trials

(ORDO NEWS) — Moderna has announced the preliminary results of the second phase of clinical trials of an RNA vaccine against melanoma.

A study with 150 sick volunteers shows that the new drug increases the chances of curing aggressive skin cancer by almost 50 percent.

Messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines are a relatively new technology. Its first high-profile successes were associated with the emergence of drugs for Covid-19, after which work began on remedies for other diseases, including, for example, malaria.

Now one of the leading creators of such drugs, Moderna, has announced preliminary results of the second phase of clinical trials of a personalized RNA vaccine against melanoma, one of the most dangerous skin cancers.

Such drugs consist of mRNA fragments placed in a lipid shell, which facilitates its delivery to the body. mRNA allows cells to make copies of target pathogen proteins.

Based on these molecules, the immune system “learns” to recognize and neutralize them, while the original mRNAs are destroyed.

In the case of the Covid-19 vaccine, the mRNAs carry the information for the synthesis of the virus spike protein.

An experimental mRNA-4157/V940 cancer vaccine is prepared individually for each patient, using samples of his melanoma.

Of these, up to 34 specific markers characteristic of tumor cells are isolated. For them, the corresponding mRNAs are obtained, which are placed in lipid membranes.

The drug is in phase II clinical trials involving 157 patients with advanced skin cancer.

After surgical removal of the tumor, a randomly selected part of the participants received conventional immunotherapy using pembrolizumab (manufactured by Merck under the trade name KEYTRUDA).

The second part of the patients, in addition to such treatment, also received a new RNA vaccine. The final goal of the study is to trace the period during which the disease will remain in remission or death will occur.

Tests are still ongoing, their final results are not yet known. However, preliminary data released by Moderna is encouraging: according to the company, the risk of melanoma returning or death in patients who receive the vaccine is reduced by 44 percent.

Final conclusions and a detailed report are expected in 2023, at which time the company plans to move on to the third phase of clinical trials.

Similar work is being done by other creators of RNA vaccines: in particular, BioNTech is also in the second phase of testing its experimental melanoma drug BNT111.

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