(KXAN) — There’s new hope in the battle against one of the deadliest forms of skin cancer; it’s a treatment that uses vaccine technology and the body’s immune system to help stop the spread of melanoma.
Moderna and Merck released data on the results of the trials so far.
CNBC reported the vaccine “reduced the risk of melanoma spreading to other parts of the body or death by 65% in patients with stage 3 or 4 of the disease compared with patients who received Merck’s immunotherapy treatment alone.”
According to CNBC’s report, the clinical trial has enrolled 157 patients who have had their cancer surgically removed.
Dr. Ade Adamson, assistant professor in the department of internal medicine at Dell Medical School provided some insight on the treatment.
Adamson explained it’s a treatment for late-stage melanoma, which he explained as melanoma that’s moved into the lymph nodes or distant organs.
“The way the trial was designed, is people were randomly assigned to standard of care, which is immunotherapy, or standard of care plus this new mRNA vaccine. Then, those patients were followed for about two years, and what they found was a 65% decrease in the amount of spread of melanoma in the patients that were in the mRNA group,” Adamson said.
Adamson said the prime candidates for this type of vaccine are those that have advanced melanoma, which would be stage 3 or 4. It’s not for people who have a localized form of melanoma or melanomas that are restricted only to the skin.
Do researchers think this type of treatment could potentially impact other types of cancer treatments?
Adamson said yes.
“What is most fascinating about this new development is that the vaccine actually is personalized to the tumor of the patient that receives the mRNA vaccine,” he explained. “So, it’s really a potentially transformative technology that can be used in various different cancers, and not just melanoma.”
According to Adamson, the trial is currently a Phase 2 trial, and there needs to be a confirmatory trial before the vaccine is available for use, which would be a Phase 3 trial. Adamson said that could take another couple of years.
“But this is at least a promising start.”