Moderna's cancer vaccine combined with standard treatment for melanoma significantly reduces the risk of death or cancer recurrence in cancer survivors, according to trial data recently shared by the scientific journal Freethink.
To treat melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, doctors usually start by surgically removing as much of the cancer as possible. They may then give another treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiotherapy, to kill any cancer cells they don't detect.
Even if a person is cancer-free afterward, there is always a possibility that skin cancer will return, and certain types are considered at high risk of recurrence, including those that are particularly thick or metastatic (spread to other parts of the body). body) before treatment.
Moderna and pharmaceutical giant Merck are developing an mRNA-based cancer vaccine, mRNA-4157 (V940) — the same technology used with Covid-19 — for people who have developed high-risk melanomas.
The vaccine works by telling the body to produce up to 34 “neoantigens.” These are proteins found only in cancer cells, and Moderna customizes the vaccine for each receptor to carry the instructions for the neoantigens on its cancer cells.
The idea behind the vaccine is that by prompting the body to produce these proteins, it can stimulate the immune system to quickly recognize and attack any new cancer cells that contain them, preventing their recurrence.
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