Moderna Company Shares Decline Despite Development in Cancer Vaccine Trials

Vaccination (Photo: Adam Glanzman)

Shares of Moderna experienced a decline on Monday as investors analyzed new trial findings concerning the personalized cancer vaccine being developed in collaboration with Merck.

Merck’s stock, in contrast, remained relatively stable.

According to the companies, their experimental mRNA vaccine, when used alongside Merck’s widely-used drug Keytruda, reduced the risk of melanoma skin cancer recurrence by 44% compared to patients receiving Keytruda alone.

This outcome was detailed in their first comprehensive presentation of phase two trial results, shared at a meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Florida on Sunday.

The data indicated that nearly 80% of participants who received both the vaccine and Keytruda remained free of cancer for 18 months, whereas this figure was 62% for those who only received Keytruda.

The companies noted that side effects associated with the vaccine were generally mild, with fatigue being the most common issue.

These findings build upon initial results released in December, suggesting that the combination of the vaccine and Keytruda “may be a novel means of potentially extending the lives of patients with high-risk melanoma,” remarked Dr. Kyle Holen, Moderna’s head of development, therapeutics, and oncology.

Moderna Company (Photo: Brian Snyder)

Moderna and Merck disclosed plans to launch a phase three trial in 2023 and to expand their research swiftly to assess the treatment’s impact on other types of tumors, including a significant form of lung cancer.

The response from Wall Street ranged from cautious optimism to skepticism. SVB Securities analysts viewed the results as promising for the personalized cancer vaccine but cautioned that the path to regulatory approval is novel and untested.

They expressed skepticism about the likelihood of accelerated approval by the FDA, which typically reserves this designation for drugs addressing serious conditions with unmet medical needs.

Wolfe Research analyst Tim Anderson, in a note on Monday, indicated that many stakeholders of Moderna and Merck maintain cautious optimism about the cancer vaccine-Keytruda combination.

Despite high initial expectations, Anderson noted persistent skepticism within the oncology community due to past disappointments in cancer vaccine development.

Similarly, Wells Fargo analyst Mohit Bansal voiced cautious optimism, highlighting “trial imbalances” that might have influenced the more favorable outcomes observed with the personalized cancer vaccine.

He emphasized the need for additional data before drawing definitive conclusions about the treatment’s efficacy.

While the trial results show promise, the market response reflects ongoing uncertainties and the rigorous scrutiny typical of developments in oncology therapies.

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Categorized as Health

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