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Vivian Xie
5 Sep 2023

Revolutionising cancer treatment with mRNA-based therapeutics

Global market for mRNA-based oncology therapeutics expected to reach USD $2 billion by 2029, with promising results for the combination of mRNA candidates with immune checkpoint inhibitors to treat solid tumours.

mRNA-based therapeutics may be about to revolutionise the field of oncology and treatment options for certain cancer patients, with BioNTech leading the global market for mRNA-based oncology treatments with projected sales of USD $885 million in 2029. 

The German pharmaceutical company boasts a diverse development pipeline with various drugs in phase I, II, and III trials. Most of these molecules target solid tumours including those such as melanoma, prostate cancer, cervical cancer, non-small cell lung cancer, and pancreatic cancer. BioNTech revealed their promising results for phase I results of pancreatic cancer drug BNT122 at the annual American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting. 

BNT122 is combined with an immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI), in this case atezolizumab. Early results from the phase I study suggest a favourable safety profile and encouraging clinical activity. The trial was conducted in collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Genentech.  

Other trials have primarily focused on melanoma for the development of mRNA-based therapies. These trials have also demonstrated promising phase II results. Pharmaceutical giants such as Modern and Merck have also demonstrated strong holdings in the global mRNA-based therapeutics market, with the Moderna/Merck mRNA-4156 candidate for the treatment of stage IIB-IV cutaneous melanoma emerging as the only mRNA-based therapy candidate for the indication in an ongoing phase III clinical trial. mRNA-4157 is utilised in combination with ICI pembrolizumab. If the trials prove a success, it will be the first instance in which the combined use of and mRNA cancer vaccine and an ICI have demonstrated improved recurrence-free survival rates. GlobalData experts predict that such targeted approaches will bolster the potential of mRNA-based treatments by opening new avenues for their mechanisms of action in combination with ICIs, expanding treatment options to other solid tumours. 

Oncology and haematology analyst at Global Data Biswajit Podder comments: “mRNA-based therapies have the potential to revolutionise cancer treatment. The technology bears tremendous promise, particularly for difficult-to-treat solid tumours. OTX-2002 from Omega Therapeutics in an mRNA therapy [is] anticipated to generate $658 million in global sales, representing 33.2% of [the] total mRNA therapy market by 2029. Omega Therapeutics’ share suggests increasing competition and diversification in this innovative field. A dynamic clinical trials landscape, 36 mRNA-based products are currently participating in 65 distinct phase I-III clinical trials across several cancer indications. There are also 178 mRNA candidates in discovery, preclinical, and clinical stages of development for oncology, aimed at treating various types of cancers. 

Experts are cautious in their excitement – the industry is yet to see the first regulatory approval of mRNA-based therapeutics for cancer treatments. Many cite the importance of developing the technology necessary for producing a successful, commercial mRNA therapeutic for cancer treatments. “The road to market approval for mRNA-based therapies is fraught with obstacles, such as mRNA stability and delivery specificity,” Podder continues. “Consequently, advancements in foundational mRNA biology and delivery platforms are critically important for companies specialising in mRNA-based therapeutics. Moderna/Merck should focus on generating Phase III data for mRNA-4157 as quickly as possible to expedite the Biologics License Application process and to enjoy [a] first-to-market advantage.” 

Source: BioNTech to lead $2 billion mRNA-based oncology therapy market despite challenges [Accessed 5 September 2023]  

Interested in mRNA-based therapeutics? Learn more about their applications and packaging in our Feature Article 'Delivering on mRNA-based therapeutics: innovations in applications and packaging'

Vivian Xie
Editor - Custom Content

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