Moderna jumps as vaccine shows benefit in head and neck cancer in early study

(Reuters) -Moderna shares rose 8% to a three-month high on Tuesday after the company’s individualized cancer vaccine developed with Merck showed positive response in an early-stage trial in patients with a type of head and neck cancer.

The vaccine, designed to train the immune system of patients to recognize and attack specific mutations in cancer cells, earlier showed promise in treating melanoma in a mid-stage study.

“The data continue to validate the individualized therapy platform and suggests it could potentially work in indications outside melanoma,” Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said in a note.

Yee said the combination showed a strong benefit in extending survival, versus a previous trial testing Keytruda alone.

Data from 22 patients who received the vaccine, mRNA-4157, in combination with Keytruda was reported at the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting at San Diego on Monday.

The vaccine combination showed evidence of activation of immune responses in patients, and was found to be safe and well tolerated in the study, Moderna said.

Moderna shares have risen nearly 14% so far this year, after a slump last year, as the company advances several vaccines such as its shots against respiratory syncytial virus and the cancer therapy to help offset a sharp decline in COVID product sales.

(Reporting by Mariam Sunny in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)