Moderna and Merck declared that they would work together to create and market a cancer vaccine that is customized for every patient.
In a phase two trial, the vaccine from Moderna, which is based on their messenger RNA technology, is being examined in conjunction with Merck’s Keytruda to treat patients with high-risk melanoma, the most lethal type of skin cancer. The businesses anticipate disclosing information in this year’s fourth quarter.
After the news was announced, the stock of Moderna surged 16% in morning trading before losing some of that gain. In afternoon trade, the company’s shares increased by roughly 10%.
Keytruda is the largest drug sold by Merck. It accounted for 35% of all sales for the business in the second quarter. The Food and Drug Administration has given it the go-ahead to treat a variety of cancers.
The contracts were initially signed in 2016, but Merck is now exercising its option by paying Moderna $250 million. Merck will work with other companies to develop and market the product. Each company will split both expenses and earnings evenly.