Skip to content

Revolutionary mRNA vaccine against melanoma to be tested in Geneva

Life sciences

13 June 2023

Moderna’s mRNA vaccine for melanoma will be tested at the Geneva University Hospitals in 2023. The vaccine, combined with immunotherapy, could significantly reduce cancer recurrence.

A promising mRNA vaccine developed by Moderna, confirmed to be effective against certain cases of melanoma, is soon to be tested at the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG). The mRNA technology is being hailed as a “small revolution” in the field of cancer vaccinology by the Head of the Department of Oncology at HUG, Olivier Michielin. The start of the clinical trial is anticipated in the summer or fall of 2023.

HUG, alongside possibly three other sites in German-speaking Switzerland, will participate in this critical global phase 3 trial. The aim is to offer the combined treatment of mRNA vaccine and immunotherapy to patients at significant risk of recurrence.

Michielin spoke about the trial on the heels of the world’s largest annual cancer conference held in early June in Chicago by the American Society of Clinical Oncology. During the conference, the most recent findings on the mRNA vaccine were presented. The results suggest a significant reduction in recurrences among people diagnosed with skin cancer when the vaccine is administered in conjunction with the anticancer drug Keytruda, developed by Merck.

According to Michielin, the results are “extremely impressive.” The risk of metastatic recurrences in organs other than the skin is reduced by 65% compared to immunotherapy alone, which already reduced this risk by approximately 40%. “We did not expect to see such figures one day. The excitement at the conference was palpable,” commented Michielin.

A game-changer in personalized cancer therapy

The mRNA technology is considered revolutionary in the field of cancer vaccinology. For the first time, it allows the targeting of numerous specific mutations that are unique to each individual. This groundbreaking approach is seen as a game-changer in personalized medicine, offering a potential new way to battle various types of cancer.

An additional benefit is the low toxicity level of this type of vaccine. This makes it a viable treatment option for patients who have undergone transplants, a group for whom immunotherapy is often not proposed due to the risk of graft rejection.

This upcoming trial, therefore, holds significant potential in the advancement of cancer treatments, particularly for melanoma. The findings from this trial could change the way we understand, target, and treat not only melanoma but also other forms of cancer, marking a new era in cancer therapy.