Belgian Biotech Starts Phase Ib with an off-the-shelf mRNA Therapy for Melanoma

etherna melanoma mrna therapy

eTheRNA has started a Phase Ib trial in patients with melanoma to test a cancer immunotherapy based on off-the-shelf mRNA technology.

eTheRNA is one of the few companies working in mRNA therapies that are running clinical trials. The Belgian biotech has announced the start of a Phase Ib trial with its candidate TriMix-MEL, also called ECI-006, in patients with metastatic melanoma. Run in Belgium and Spain, the trial will evaluate safety, tolerability and immunogenicity of the therapy in patients with melanoma after surgical removal of the tumor that are at risk of relapse. Preliminary results are expected in the second half of 2018.

TriMix-MEL is a combination of three mRNA sequences that encode proteins to activate dendritic cells and five that encode melanoma antigens. Unlike eTheRNA’s most advanced, ex vivo therapies, which consist of extracting dendritic cells and activating them in vitro before reinjection, TriMix-MEL is an in vivo therapy, injected directly in the lymph node, which carries the advantage of manufacturing the treatment as an off-the-shelf product instead of an individualized procedure.

As a treatment for melanoma, TriMix-MEL will be closely competing with BioNTech’s FixVAC, another mRNA based therapy consisting of a combination of tumor antigens present in 90% of melanoma patients, which is currently in Phase I.

Image via kittirat roekburi / Shutterstock


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