On Monday, Cleaver, the first person to be enrolled in Moderna’s study of its personalized cancer vaccine, returned to Sarah Cannon, where another FedEx box waited.
“At Moderna, it’s like the answer is mRNA,” says Andrew Allen, CEO of rival Gritstone Oncology, which is planning to start a trial of a competing cancer vaccine next year.
For Cleaver, Moderna’s software produced a list of 20 protein targets specific to her cancer. Moderna’s vaccine would teach the body how to recognize protein targets that appear only on the cancer cells.
Neon Therapeutics, whose offices are less than a mile from Moderna’s in Cambridge, expects results from its first study, in melanoma, non-small cell lung cancer and bladder cancer, in early 2018.
Moderna partnered with Merck & Co., adding its vaccine to Merck’s Keytruda, which works by lowering barriers erected by the cancer that stymie the immune system.
If the vaccine proves safe for Cleaver and the first cohort of patients, Moderna will test it in patients with active cancer.