Moderna and Merck recently reported encouraging findings on an mRNA vaccine used to treat melanoma. When it was given a long side of the drug Keytruda in phase two of its trial, it was found to have a 44% reduction in the cause of death and reoccurrence. The test has now entered phase three.
Dr. Payal Kohli, an ABC10 health expert, shared her thoughts on the future of cancer immunotherapy. Cancer, she claims, is difficult to combat because it is microscopic.
“When we administer chemotherapy, we are poisoning all of the cells in our body, both normal and cancerous, and this can result in a variety of side effects. Similarly, radiation can only target visible cancer. We can’t always target microscopic cancer with radiation therapy, so cancer immunotherapy, as it’s known, is a rapidly expanding field with numerous significant advances.” Kohli stated.
She went on to say that these vaccines might help prevent cancer in the future. “You inject someone with the genetic code of specific cancer that they have so that their immune system says this is a foreign, genetic material, let me mount an antibody and T&B cell response to this, and then it goes and attacks cancer,” Kohli explained.
“I think COVID has opened the door for these messenger RNA vaccines to become commonplace,” Kohli said.
We’ve seen it with other infectious diseases like the flu, and there’s an RSV vaccine in the works, but Kohli believes it could one day be used to treat cancer and solid tumors in conjunction with other treatments. Scientists would already have the cancer footprint, and they could theoretically design vaccines to do what is needed to prevent a recurrence.