What Florida should know about Moderna’s skin cancer vaccine

Florida is known for its beaches, theme parks, and sunshine—lots and lots of sunshine.

So it’s no surprise that the Sunshine State’s annual growth rate Melanoma Skin Cancer Cases higher than the national level.

Florida had just over 7,500 new cases in 2019, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Recently, patients received encouraging news about a potential new weapon in the fight against the deadly disease.

Moderna and Merck announced on December 13, experimental melanoma vaccine The drug from Moderna has shown encouraging results in a mid-stage clinical trial when it was combined with Merck’s immunotherapy drug Keytruda.

melanoma More dangerous than other types of skin cancer. If not caught early, it is more likely to spread to different parts of the body.

Here’s what Floridians should know about randomized trials.

what happened?

According to one study, the phase 2b trial enrolled 157 patients with stage 3 or 4 melanoma whose tumors had been surgically removed and were at high risk of recurrence. Press Releases from the company.

After undergoing surgery, one group of patients received a combination of Moderna’s vaccine and Keytruda, while the other group received Keytruda alone.

The combination reduced the risk of relapse or death by 44% compared with Keytruda alone, the companies said. Patients received up to nine doses of the vaccine. Do it every three weeks.

Moderna and Merck did not release trial data, nor did the results appear in a peer-reviewed journal. But the news release said they would share that information with health officials at an upcoming medical meeting.

Serious drug-related “adverse events” occurred in 14.4 percent of patients who received the combination therapy and in 10 percent of patients who received Keytruda alone, according to the press release.

How do vaccines work?

Moderna’s vaccine is a “personalized” vaccine using mRNA technology.

The vaccine is customized for each patient based on their tumor’s unique mutations. It primes the body’s immune system to target the mutation.

The purpose of the injection is to keep the cancer from coming back — it’s not injected to stop people from getting melanoma in the first place.

Why are the trial results significant?

The trial provides the first evidence that mRNA technology may be effective in melanoma.

modern COVID-19 lens also uses mRNA technology, which allows faster development vaccine.

A Moderna spokesman said in an email that the company can produce a melanoma vaccine in about eight weeks.

The technology is “very exciting,” says Patrick HuPresident and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center Tampa.

Researchers could test whether it works successfully against other forms of cancer, says tumor immunologist Hwu.

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Scientists have been working on cancer vaccines for decades, but “none have really been successful,” he said Keith Knutsona cancer vaccine researcher at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville.

“Here we have something that can reinvigorate the field,” Knudsen said of Moderna’s announcement. “We still believe in cancer vaccines, but we need solid clinical evidence that they work, and maybe this is it.”

Federal regulators have not yet approved an mRNA cancer vaccine.

How much do vaccines cost?

Moderna does not yet have a “determined price,” a company spokesman said in an email.

How serious is melanoma in Florida?

In 2019, the age-adjusted rate in Florida was 24.5 new cases of melanoma per 100,000 people, according to federal health officials. This compares with a national rate of 22.7 cases.

Several smaller states have lower death rates than Florida, but the Sunshine State has higher death rates than California, New York and Texas.

Florida reported 656 deaths from melanoma in 2019, It is the second largestaccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Are there other cancer vaccines?

Yes.preventive vaccine human papilloma virusor HPV for indirect prevention of different cancers. HPV is a common sexually transmitted infection. If it stays in the body long enough, it can lead to cancers of the anus, cervix, oropharynx, penis, vulva, and vagina, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

this Hepatitis B vaccine Also considered a cancer vaccine. The disease it prevents leads to liver cancer.this sipuleucel-T vaccine May help treat advanced prostate cancer.

A number of experimental cancer vaccines are being tested in trials, added Knutson, who is developing a preventive vaccine against breast cancer.

What’s next?

According to the press release, Moderna and Merck plan to start a phase 3 trial of the melanoma vaccine sometime in 2023.

Hwu said it could take several years to complete the trials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to review whether to approve the vaccine.

Eventually, patients will be able to enroll in the trial for a chance to receive the injection.