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Moderna posts encouraging early data for personalised cancer vaccine

Vaccine tested alongside Merck's Keytruda

Ahead of a key data read-out for its COVID-19 vaccine, Moderna has posted positive early data from an interim analysis of its ongoing phase 1 trial evaluating its mRNA-based personalised cancer vaccine.

The vaccine, mRNA-4157, is being evaluated in combination with Merck & Co’s PD-1 inhibitor Keytruda (pembrolizumab) in different cancer types.

The data, presented at The Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer’s Annual Meeting (SITC 2020), included a cohort of ten patients with HPV-negative head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) and 17 patients with micro-satellite stable colorectal cancer (MSS-CRC).

Results from this cohort showed that the mRNA-4157 plus Keytruda combination produced responses, as measured by tumour shrinkage, in the HPV-negative HNSCC patients, although no responses were observed in the MSS-CRC group.

The overall response rate (ORR) in the HPV-negative HNSCC group was 50%, with two patients achieving a complete response (CR) with no detectable disease, and three patients achieving a partial response (PR).

In terms of median progression-free survival (mPFS), the combination treatment reached 9.8 months – in comparison, the published ORR and mPFS for Keytruda monotherapy are 14.6% and 2.0 months, respectively.

According to Moderna, the data showed that mRNA-4157 is well tolerated, with adverse events being typically low grade and reversible.

Based on the interim data, Moderna has decided to expand the size of the current HPV-negative HNSCC cohort to include 40 patients.

“We are encouraged by this interim data from our personalised cancer vaccine programme, which involves designing and manufacturing a unique vaccine for each patient based on their specific tumour,” said Stephen Hoge, president of Moderna.

Personalised cancer vaccines, such as mRNA-4157, use patients’ own cancer cells to develop a vaccine that is designed to help their immune-system recognise and destroy cancer cells.

"The data is preliminary and the sample size is small, but it is promising,” said Julie Bauman, deputy director of the University of Arizona Cancer Center, who presented the interim data at SITC 2020.

"A phase 1 trial is about safety first and foremost, and we now know this treatment is safe and tolerable. But, we also have a strong signal to point us to study this further in head and neck cancer. That is why we are excited to expand this trial,” she added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

12th November 2020

From: Research

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