Researcher Dr Jeffrey S Weber led a clinical trial that found adding a vaccine to an immunotherapy treatment reduced melanoma recurrence. PHOTO: JULIANA THOMAS / NYU Langone Hospitals.

A new study led by researchers at NYU Langone Health and its Perlmutter Cancer Center has revealed that an experimental mRNA vaccine and an immunotherapy combination dramatically reduced melanoma recurrence.

The combination was also found to reduce the likelihood of causing death by 44% against immunotherapy alone.

Men and women who had surgery to get melanoma removed from lymph nodes or other organs took part in the randomised Phase IIb study.

They were also at high risk of the disease returning in areas distant from the original cancer.

In the trial, 107 subjects were injected with both the experimental vaccine, mRNA-4157/V940, and the immunotherapy pembrolizumab.

Moderna and Merck are jointly developing and commercialising mRNA-4157/V940 while pembrolizumab is manufactured by Merck.

Cancer returned in 24 subjects within a follow-up period of three years, compared with 20 out of 50 who were given only pembrolizumab.

Perlmutter Cancer Center deputy director and study senior investigator Jeffrey Weber said: “Our Phase IIb study shows that a neoantigen mRNA vaccine, when used in combination with pembrolizumab, resulted in prolonged time without recurrence or death compared with pembrolizumab alone.”

Phase III trials of mRNA-4157/V940 along with pembrolizumab versus pembrolizumab alone will be carried out at NYU Langone and several other medical centres around the globe.

The study scientists said that mRNA-4157/V940 took about six to eight weeks to develop for each subject and was able to recognise as many as 34 neoantigens.

Moderna and Merck provided funds for the initiation of the Phase IIb study.

Editorial content is independently produced and follows the highest standards of journalistic integrity. Topic sponsors are not involved in the creation of editorial content.