Moderna and Merck Laboratories move towards an RNA vaccine

American laboratories Moderna and Merck announced on Wednesday that they have entered into an agreement to jointly develop and market a messenger RNA vaccine currently being tested in combination with an anti-cancer drug for patients at high risk of skin cancer. Moderna and Merck, whose products are marketed as MSD outside of North America, have been collaborating since 2016 on the development of a cancer vaccine.

Under the terms of their agreement, Merck will now pay $250 million to Moderna to exercise an option agreed upon at the start of their partnership and move forward with the next steps toward bringing the product to market. The two companies will share the costs and potential benefits.

Moderna’s stock jumped 11% in mid-session on the New York Stock Exchange while Merck’s gleaned 0.1%. After several years of research without marketing products, Moderna made a sensational irruption on the pharmaceutical market by being one of the first, with Pfizer-BioNTech, to offer a vaccine against Covid-19 using messenger RNA technology. .

Other diseases possibly involved

The laboratory believes that this technique, which allows human cells to be ordered to manufacture proteins present in the virus in order to accustom the immune system to recognizing and neutralizing it, can also be used for treatments against the flu, HIV , autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases and cancers.

Merck, for its part, largely benefits from its anti-cancer drug Keytruda, which represents about a third of its turnover. Results from the phase 2 trial, which is currently testing a messenger RNA vaccine taken alongside Keytruda in patients at high risk for melanoma, are expected by the end of the year.

There are already some vaccines for prevention (such as that against the papillomavirus) or for the treatment of cancer. But several clinical trials are underway for the treatment of a wider range of cancers.

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