In a world-first, a personalised mRNA vaccine for a deadly form of skin cancer is being rolled out in an international Phase III clinical trial.

Called mRNA-4157 (V940), the vaccine is being offered to patients who have had a high-risk melanoma surgically removed. The custom-built treatment is designed to help the immune system wipe out any remaining cancer cells in order to prevent the tumour recurring.

A single treatment injection is personalised to the patient and matches the specific genetic signature of their tumour. It works by instructing the body to make proteins that attack antigens found only on those cancer cells.

The vaccine is being given to patients in combination with pembrolizumab, known by its brand name as Keytruda, which is an immunotherapy that supports the immune system in killing cancer cells.

The pairing is based on phase II trial data which showed that people with serious high-risk melanomas who received the jab alongside pembrolizumab were almost twice as likely to survive, and not have their cancer come back after three years than those in the study arm who were only given the drug.

“This is one of the most exciting things we’ve seen in a really long time,” said Dr Heather Shaw of University College London Hospitals.

The UK part of the trial aims to recruit at least 60-70 patients across eight centres around the country. To be eligible for the trial, patients must have had their high-risk melanoma surgically removed in the last 12 weeks.


Further reading

First personalised melanoma vaccine tested

Moderna And Merck Announce mRNA-4157 (V940) In Combination with Keytruda(R) (Pembrolizumab) Demonstrated Continued Improvement in Recurrence-Free Survival and Distant Metastasis-Free Survival in Patients with High-Risk Stage III/IV Melanoma