SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Melanoma is a cancer that the American Cancer Society estimates will kill nearly 8,000 people this year and a group of researchers are developing something they hope can save lives.

“The data were pretty darn impressive,” said Dr. Jeffery Weber with the NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center. Weber is also the Codirector of the Melanoma Research Program, overseeing experimental therapeutics.

Moderna and Merck are creating a new vaccine they hope will treat the potentially deadly disease. In stage two of its clinical trial, their study claims the vaccine prevents the recurrence of melanoma and prevents death by 44%.

Doctors say it’s a personalized mRNA vaccine that uses the patient’s own immune system against cancerous tumors.

“It’s gonna generate killer cells that are going to seek out and find the tumor and get rid of it,” Weber said. “And if we get to the point where you can literally prevent almost everyone from relapsing or returning or that tumor returning, that’s a gigantic win.”

The vaccine is expected to begin stage three trials this year. Despite the long road ahead, researchers said they’re confident this vaccine can be effective.

There are also other things you can do to stay safe and avoid skin cancer. Doctors say when you’re out in the sun you should practice sun safety such as using sunscreen, staying in the shade and wearing sunglasses.

Kristina Santiago is visiting Savannah from Brooklyn, New York. Santiago said a close friend of hers had melanoma so she always remembers the core tips.

“Definitely sunscreen is basic and I probably don’t expose myself to sun for a long period of time,” Santiago said.

Santiago said she still wants to take advantage of Savannah’s weather and get out and enjoy the sun.

“But I don’t mind getting some sun in my arms and legs and I definitely want to soak up the sun, especially traveling from the north.”