A press release from Moderna and Merck has announced positive top line results from their phase 2b study of mRNA-4157/V940, an investigational mRNA cancer vaccine.
Prof Alan Melcher, Professor of Translational Immunotherapy, The Institute of Cancer Research, London; and Honorary Consultant Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“There’s no question, this is very exciting. These results show the feasibility of making and delivering personalised vaccines to treat cancer, and that the vaccine can add benefit to current treatments. These results establish the principle that this complex technology is doable.
“However, these are still early results and we have not seen the full data yet. The trial is relatively small and the benefits of vaccines against melanoma and potentially other cancers need to be further tested in larger trials and other cancer types. It will also be important to see if the vaccine did indeed generate an immune response against the tumour, which I anticipate will be tested using tissue and blood collected from patients in this study.”
Dr Juanita Lopez, Clinical Researcher, The Institute of Cancer Research, London; and Consultant Medical Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“This is the first time we’ve seen a personalised cancer vaccine, together with standard of care immunotherapy, reduce the chances of cancer coming back in patients with early stages of skin cancer. The findings are exciting and open the door for further trials in melanoma, as well as other types of cancer. By leveraging the power of the immune system to specifically spot, recognise, and destroy cancer cells, these personalised cancer vaccines hold great potential for improving cancer treatment outcomes.”
Dr James Thaventhiran, Clinical Immunologist and Programme Leader at the MRC Toxicology Unit, University of Cambridge, said:
“mRNA vaccine technology offers the ability to rapidly generate personalised vaccines directly against the specific mutations within a patient’s cancer. This is an intriguing result that suggests an added benefit of these cancer vaccines when used with PD-1 checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. It will be important to understand what benefit these personalised vaccines can offer either in terms of efficacy or toxicity over dual CTLA-4 and PD-1 combination checkpoint blockade therapy. It also remains to be seen if this therapeutic approach has value in cancers which do not contain a lot of mutations, which tend to be those that are currently immunotherapy treatment resistant.”
Prof Andrew Beggs, MRC Senior Clinical Fellow and Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, University of Birmingham, said:
“The use of the game changing mRNA vaccine technology in increasing response to immunotherapy drugs is very exciting. The study used a personalised cancer vaccine to increase the effectiveness of immunotherapy in metastatic skin cancer, showing that it was well tolerated and seemed to reduce the rate of recurrence of the cancer. Although early data, it is very encouraging that this is a likely effective treatment option in the future. This advance is likely to have important implications for metastatic cancer patients in the future, and opens a new therapeutic avenue for these patients.”
Mr Andrew Beggs: “I have no conflict to declare.”
For all other experts, no reply to our request for DOIs was received.