Moderna and Merck could be on the verge of a lifesaving vaccine that could prevent a deadly form of skin cancer.
The pharmaceutical giants are currently in mid-stage clinical trials studying how patients who have had melonomic cancer cells surgically removed react to their preventative shot. Patients in the trial also received Merck's immunotherapy regimen Keytruda, which works with the immune system to attack cancer cells.
"We are very excited. We are moving very quickly with Merck on to phase 3 for this study," Stéphane Bancel, Moderna CEO, told CNBC.
At this stage in the study, of the 157 clinical trial patients, 44 percent saw a decline in the cancer returning or death. The vaccine works to train a patient's immune system to detect and then defend itself against mutations in a tumor.
The next phase of the trials is set to begin in 2023 with Moderna and Merck looking to expand its vaccine therapy to other types of cancers. Phase 3 will likely be the final testing stage before findings are submitted to the FDA for approval.
Moderna, who saw its stock surge on the news, utilized the same mRNA technology used in its widely successful COVID-19 vaccine to create the shot aimed at preventing melanoma.