Moderna and Merck Cancer Vaccine


Hanais Karmand

Moderna and Merck have created a vaccine that is supposedly meant to help decrease the chance of recurring cancer, and many are calling this a big step in cancer research.

A conference was held regarding mRNA vaccines and the other diseases it can be used for, not just COVID. The researchers involved in the study found that those who received the modified mRNA vaccine were about 44% more likely to be tumor-free than those who received the standard version of the vaccine. “This represents a big shift in how we’re using cancer vaccines,” said Dr. Robert Vonderheide, the committee chair of the American Association for Cancer Research program.

The vaccine was directed towards melanoma, but if the study continues it could improve over time and provide hope for cancer patients, especially after years of trial and error. According to Vonderheide, who also serves as director of the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania, the pandemic demonstrated that mRNA vaccines, which are already being created for cancer, can be used safely and developed fast.

There have actually been a few side effects that are tied to this vaccine. Lymph node swelling is one of the main ones. It’s a distressing side effect for women who have been treated for breast cancer. Other common side effects include exhaustion, muscle pain, rash, diarrhea, fever, cough, decreased appetite, itching, shortness of breath, constipation, and nausea. Symptoms vary from patient to patient.

The new study, launched in 2018, was relatively small and only lasted a few years, so now Merck hopes to start a large, Phase 3 trial later this year. It will be open to people with Stage 2 or Stage 3 melanoma. Dr.Jeffery Weber says, “It’s got a ways to go, but I do believe that these results will hold up over time.”