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Moderna surges on cancer vaccine’s ‘game-changing’ potential


modenaof(Messenger RNA) Merck (MRKA cancer vaccine developed in partnership with the company could reduce the risk of recurrence or death in melanoma patients by 49%, the companies said Thursday. The update fueled a sharp rally in Moderna stock, which has been pummeled recently on coronavirus news.




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The companies tracked patients who received the cancer vaccine in combination with Merck’s drug Keytruda three years ago. The patient had the melanoma surgically removed and then received a cancer vaccine in the hope of preventing the cancer from coming back.

After about three years, patients who received the combination were 49% less likely to relapse or die than those who received Keytruda alone. In addition, they also had a 62% lower risk of their cancer spreading or dying compared with the Keytruda group.

The results are an improvement over the December 2022 update, with cancer vaccine group Compared with Keytruda recipients, the likelihood of relapse or death was 44% lower. RBC Capital Markets analyst Luca Issi said in a report that Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel confirmed that the cancer vaccine may receive accelerated approval in 2025.

“We believe this data reiterates a signal that, if replicated in larger studies, could be transformative for patients,” he said, giving Moderna stock an outperform rating and a 125 price target.

In early trading on the stock market today, Moderna’s stock price surged 15.5% to 90.79. Wednesday, modern inventory Covid vaccine rivals edge higher after initial decline Pfizer (PTFE) publish Light Guide in 2024largely due to weak sales of its coronavirus products.

Merck shares fell slightly after the market opened on Wednesday, but rose 2.6%.

Moderna Stock: Refocusing on Cancer Vaccines

Cancer vaccines could give Moderna and Merck a major boost.

Currently, Moderna’s only commercialized drug is its COVID-19 vaccine. But sales have been sluggish. Moderna is working to strengthen its pipeline and return to an earlier focus on cancer. And the patent protecting Merck’s Keytruda is expected to expire later this decade.

Importantly, the side effects of the cancer vaccine and Keytruda combination were consistent with what researchers had seen in earlier tests. About a quarter of patients who received the combination experienced serious side effects, compared with only one in five patients in the Keytruda group.

For Moderna stock, the most common side effects were fatigue, injection site pain, and chills, which is promising.

Moderna and Merck have already begun phase 3 studies.But these are long-term studies, and the final results come from Ongoing Phase 2 studies It’s not expected to be available until 2029, according to ClinicalTrials.gov. RBC’s Issi said the company may speed up approval though.

Meanwhile, Moderna shares have fallen for two straight years, reflecting widespread unease among biotech stocks.

Follow Allison Gatlin on X (formerly Twitter) at @IBD_AGatlin.

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