Personalized mRNA Vaccines May Transform the Treatment of Melanoma

Source: The Asco Post, June 2023

The rates of survival and disease recurrence improved significantly when a personalized mRNA vaccine tailored to the patients’ tumor genetics was coupled with immunotherapy in those who had undergone surgery for high-risk melanoma, according to novel findings presented by Khattak et al at the 2023 ASCO Annual Meeting (Abstract LBA9503).

“The current standard of care is immunotherapy using an antibody known as pembrolizumab," explained lead study author Adnan Khattak, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, Clinical Professor at Edith Cowan University, Director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Unity at the Fiona Stanley Hospital, and a medical oncologist at the Hollywood Private Hospital. “There are two main issues: first, despite having active immunotherapy for stage III melanoma, about half of patients will relapse at 5 years. [S]econdly, it’s a very crude approach. [If] I treat 10 new [patients with] high-risk melanoma, I give them the same drug; it’s not rocket science that it’s going to work for some but not others, and some may see side effects and others may not,” he emphasized.

Although vaccines are typically associated with disease prevention, the novel mRNA vaccine in this study was used to treat patients who have already been diagnosed with melanoma.