Promising Trial Results Show New Standards In Cancer Treatment And Diagnostics Are On The Horizon

On Friday, Pfizer Inc PFE revealed its drug for an advanced form of lung cancer showed promising long-term results in a late-stage trial.  On Monday, Moderna MRNA and Merck & Co MRK also reported durable efficiency of their combined melanoma treatment that consists of an experimental mRNA vaccine and Merck’s blockbuster immunotherapy, Keytruda.

Pfizer Is Aiming To Set The Treatment Standard For Lung Cancer

With encouraging results, Pfizer is getting another step closer to establish its drug as the new standard treatment for lung cancer. Lorbrena has helped patients live longer without their cancer progressing, with most people experiencing that benefit for over five years. Lorbena also lowered the risk of the cancer progressing to brain metastasis as lung cancers with the “ALK-positive” mutation are especially adept at spreading to the brain and within the first two years of being diagnosed. The drug is already approved in the U.S. for treating adults with ALK gene mutation suffering from advanced non-small cell lung cancer. According to a release from Pfizer, 72,000 people are diagnosed with that specific form of lung cancer each year across the globe. Although Lorbena has been approved for this aggressive diagnosis that often affects younger demographics, it is not considered a standard treatment for the condition, which is something Pfizer is hoping to change with its five-year data, which is from the same trial that resulted in the drug’s U.S. approval. 

Compared to its older cancer drug, Xalkori, Lorbrena lowered the risk of cancer progression or death by 81% compared with Xalkori after five years. During that time frame, around 60% of patients treated with Lorbrena were alive without any cancer progress, compared to only 8% who received Xalkori. Moreover, Lorena smashed the risk of brain metastasis by 94% compared to Xalkori due to its power to do something other drugs cannot: cross a membrane called the blood-brain barrier and enter the brain to inhibit ALK mutations. Pfizer also stated that it will be educating physicians about how to manage adverse effects of the drug that include swelling, weight gain, high cholesterol, cognitive issues and mood changes.

Moderna Is Also Advancing In Its Battle Against Cancer

Moderna has put its mRNA vaccine technology to work in late-stage trials targeting melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Together with Merch, Moderna reported their combined treatment resulted in improved survival and showed durable efficacy in a mid-stage study that involved 157-patients, offering more evidence of the treatment’s durability. After two and a half years, patients that had received the cancer vaccine combination had an overall survival rate of 96%, compared with 90.2% with Keytruda alone, while 75% of the patients treated with the vaccine combination had recurrence-free survival, compared with 55.6% who were treated by Keytruda alone. Back in December, Merck and Moderna reported that the patients treated with the combination of their experimental vaccine and Keytruda had 49% reduction in the risk of recurrence or death compared to patients treated by Keytruda alone, with a median follow-up of nearly three years. In addition, Moderna also received its second drug approval from US regulators for an RSV vaccine in older adults on Friday. 

Smaller pharma companies are also making big steps in advancing cancer treatment.

Mainz Biomed MYNZ specializes in the early detection of cancer. During the 2024 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago, Illinois, it reported also promising results from its most expansive clinical study that evaluated the next generation of its colorectal cancer screening test, ColoAlert®. ColoAlert® is a multimodal screening test that utilizes mRNA biomarkers, a FIT test and a proprietary AI algorithm. Mainz Biomed reported sensitivity of 92.3% for colorectal cancer with a specificity of 90.1%, sensitivity of 82.2% for advanced precancerous lesions and an impressive high-grade dysplasia detection rate of 95.8%. With these impressive results, Mainz Biomed is set to commence a major clinical trial in the U.S., with the FDA PMA pivotal study ReconAAsense involving up to 15,000 participants. If successful, Mainz Biomed could set a new standard in early cancer detection as well as cancer prevention, considering its revolutionary at-home-test also identifies advanced adenomas which are a well-known cancer precursor. Colorectal cancer might be the third most common cancer in the world, but it is also the most preventable with early detection leading to survival rates above 90%. Mainz Biomed is also developing another cancer diagnostic tool for pancreatic cancer, PancAlert.

With these encouraging results, it's safe to say that Pfizer and Moderna continue their path to post-Covid-19 growth. But more importantly, it seems that new standards in cancer treatment and diagnostics are on the horizon.

DISCLAIMER: This content is for informational purposes only. It is not intended as investing advice.

This article is from an unpaid external contributor. It does not represent Benzinga's reporting and has not been edited for content or accuracy.

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