Merck and Moderna have announced that Merck has exercised its option to collaborate and commercialize the cancer vaccine. The companies are developing mRNA-4157/V940 in combination with Keytruda (pembrolizumab) as an adjuvant treatment in high-risk melanoma patients.
Both companies have announced that they will report data from KEYNOTE-942, a Phase 2 trial, in the fourth quarter of 2022. KEYNOTE-942 is an open-label randomized trial evaluating the combination of mRNA-4157/V940 and Keytruda versus Keytruda monotherapy in high-risk melanoma patients. Nine doses of mRNA-4157/V940 and Keytruda (200 mg every three weeks) were administered for almost one year until the cancer progression or had unacceptable toxicity.
According to the agreement, $250 million will be paid by Merck to Moderna in the third quarter of 2022. Merck and Moderna will develop and commercialize the vaccine, and the profits will be shared equally.
Personalized cancer vaccines are tailored to stimulate the immune response to their tumor mutation signature. mRNA-4157/V940 acts by enabling the T cell responses based on the mutational signature.
Keytruda is Merck's PD-L1 inhibitor which fights cancer by increasing the immune response. It acts by blocking PD-L1, and its ligands, which help to activate T lymphocytes, which battle against the tumor cells and normal cells.