The Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC -0.07%) has had a tough year in 2022, with sharply rising interest rates hitting many high-growth stocks hard. On Tuesday morning, though, news that November inflation figures weren't as bad as some had expected sent the Nasdaq soaring, with futures contracts rising 4% just before the market opened.

A couple of companies played key roles in helping to boost the Nasdaq on Tuesday. Moderna (MRNA 0.17%) has been looking to build on the foundation that its COVID-19 vaccine success brought it, and favorable study results suggest that it could have another path toward longer-term growth in the immediate future. Meanwhile, First Solar (FSLR 1.53%) has seen its fortunes rise as solar stocks have come back into the spotlight, and a whole new group of investors will be taking a closer look at First Solar shares after a key move from a well-regarded investing institution.

Moderna looks to personalize cancer treatment

Shares of Moderna jumped 11% in premarket trading Tuesday morning. The biotech company reported promising study results along with clinical partner Merck (MRK 0.24%) that could revolutionize disease treatment.

Moderna and Merck have been conducting a phase 2b clinical trial aiming to evaluate the use of Moderna's personalized cancer vaccine mRNA-4157/V940 in combination with Merck's already approved Keytruda. The trial included patients who had stage 3 or stage 4 melanoma and already had a complete resection performed.

The trial reached its primary endpoint of demonstrating significantly better recurrence-free survival in patients who received the combination treatment compared to those who received only Keytruda without Moderna's personalized mRNA vaccine. Specifically, the risk of recurrence of death was 44% lower in those getting the combination treatment.

Moderna and Merck intend to move forward with phase 3 trials in 2023, with discussions with regulatory authorities helping to set the strategy going forward. Given the terms of Merck's partnership with Moderna, both companies are set to benefit from further applications of mRNA-based treatments in treating a wide range of diseases.

First Solar will get its day in the sun

Shares of First Solar picked up between 2% and 3% early Tuesday. The solar stock is set to reach a key milestone as it becomes part of one of the most popular stock market indexes in the world.

S&P Dow Indices announced late Monday that First Solar would join the S&P 500 effective Dec. 19. The move comes as a result of Fortune Brands Home & Security breaking itself up into two separate parts. That corporate action will create two smaller companies, neither of which will be large enough to warrant keeping the former combined company's spot in the S&P 500.

Interestingly, this isn't the first time First Solar has been part of the large-cap benchmark. The solar giant first got added to the S&P 500 back in 2009, becoming the first renewable energy company to become part of the index during the initial heyday of solar stocks. However, when energy prices plunged and prospects for solar companies weakened, First Solar got demoted to the S&P MidCap 400 in 2017.

The solar industry's prospects look brighter than ever, and First Solar remains a leader in the field. Rejoining the S&P 500 index will help validate First Solar's position atop the list of solar stocks, and it should also help generate more excitement among ordinary investors about the prospects for major players in renewable energy to keep generating strong returns for their shareholders.