- Researchers predict that mRNA vaccines may help prevent the progression of melanoma, and could change the landscape of treatment.
- mRNA vaccines use laboratory-created mRNA to train the cells inside our body to make proteins. These proteins activate our immune system, which then responds by making antibodies. Antibodies are key in fighting infections, and can also help protect us from disease in the future.
- Many mRNA vaccines are currently in development for a range of diseases, including melanoma. Currently, the neoantigen immunotherapy drug called BNT111 is being studied in a phase 2 randomized BioNTech trial.
One significant treatment option that could break ground in the coming years is the development of mRNA vaccines for cancer. Researchers predict that these vaccines may help prevent the progression of melanoma, and could change the landscape of treatment.Read More
“RNA vaccines for neoantigens are a big deal. If that works out….well, that will be a game-changer,” Dr. Weber says.
What Are mRNA Vaccines?
Messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA) differ from traditional vaccines in that they don’t contain dead or weakened viruses. Instead, they use pieces of genetic code to help the body produce an immune response against a specific virus or disease.
An example of mRNA vaccines currently in use is the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines. These vaccines protect against the COVID virus, which can cause potentially severe respiratory illness.
The Genetic Mutation That Drives Melanoma
How do mRNA vaccines Work?
mRNA vaccines use laboratory-created mRNA to train the cells inside our body to make proteins. These proteins activate our immune system, which then responds by making antibodies. Antibodies are key in fighting infections, and can also help protect us from disease in the future.
When your body develops antibodies toward a specific virus or disease, it’s better prepared to fight that infection if it comes in contact with it again. mRNA vaccines help our body create these antibodies before we’re even infected, which could be a lifesaving measure against many serious illnesses—including melanoma and other cancers.
How Might mRNA Vaccines Be Used to Treat Melanoma?
mRNA vaccines are still in development, so it’s difficult to say for certain how they might be used to treat melanoma. However, there are a few potential ways they may help:
- As a preventative measure: One possibility is that mRNA vaccines could be given as a preventative measure for people who are at a high risk of developing melanoma. This could include people with a family history of the disease.
- To help stop the progression of melanoma: Another possibility is that mRNA vaccines could help stop the progression of melanoma in patients who have already been diagnosed. This could include using the vaccine in combination with other treatments, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
- To help prevent metastasis: Finally, mRNA vaccines may help prevent metastasis in patients who have already been treated for melanoma. Metastasis is the spread of cancer cells from the original site to other parts of the body.
Melanoma Treatment Has Come A Long Way
mRNA Vaccine Progress: Where We Are Now and What’s Next
Many mRNA vaccines are currently in development for a range of diseases, including melanoma. Currently, the neoantigen immunotherapy drug called BNT111 is being studied in a phase 2 randomized BioNTech trial.
With 120 advanced-stage melanoma patients enrolled, BNT111 is paired with a checkpoint inhibitor (immunotherapy) to target four different cancer-specific antigens. The end goal is to evaluate the overall response of BNT111 when paired with cemiplimab (Libtayo). As of late 2021, BioNTech received FDA fast track designation for its BNT111 mRNA vaccine, which will expedite the development process.
Another phase 1 BioNTech trial is testing the mRNA drug SAR441000 (BNT131) as both a monotherapy and in combination with cemiplimab (Libtayo). While still in the recruitment phase, early data in mice shows extremely promising results. The study is slated for completion in early 2024.
These are just a few examples of the progress toward mRNA vaccines for melanoma treatment. It’s clear that this area of research is rapidly evolving, and there is great potential for the use of mRNA vaccines in the future.