CHICAGO — Moderna Therapeutics (MRNA) has already raised billions of dollars, pulled off the largest IPO in biotech history, and now carries a market valuation of more than $7 billion. Saturday, the messenger RNA “startup” made its debut at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting, showcasing for the first time some early data on a personalized cancer vaccine.
The vaccine, called mRNA-4157, was administered alone and in combination with Merck’s checkpoint inhibitor Keytruda without any serious side effects. The patients were injected with the customized vaccine after their solid tumors had been removed via surgery. Immune responses were detected and most remain in remission, suggesting the vaccine was helping the patient’s body recognize and attack the unique proteins found on tumor cells.
“We’re really intrigued by the adjuvant patients that are still in remission,” said Dr. Howard “Skip” Burris III, president and chief medical officer at the Sarah Cannon Research Institute in Nashville, Tenn. “We know as investigators that these patients had tumors we were worried about, so to see that they haven’t relapsed and with T-cell responses is encouraging and positive.” Burris is the principal investigator of the Moderna mRNA-4517 clinical trial.