Scientists declare that a genetically modified version of the virus same to herpes virus could be offered as a promising new treatment for skin cancer within a year.
Patients with hostile skin cancer have been treated successfully using a drug based on the herpes virus, in an advanced stage trial that could pave the way for a new generation of cancer treatments.
The results mark the first positive phase 3 trial results for cancer “virotherapy”. The new treatment, called T-Vec, is one of a new generation of virus-based drugs.
It is based on a genetically engineered version of the herpes virus to make it harmless to patients but lethal to cancer.
The modified virus cannot develop in healthy skin cells, but can in tumor cells, which it eventually kills. It can stop protein from producing that allows it to infect healthy cells. Then, cancer cells produce their own version of the blocked protein, satisfying in the deficit and permitting the modified virus to thrive within cancerous tissue.
The herpes reproduces dynamically inside the cancer cells until they burst open, spilling the virus into the surrounding area, triggering a secondary immune reaction against the tumor.
Remarkably, the therapy has the potential to overcome cancer even when the disease has spread to organs throughout the body, offering clearer future to patients.
Sponsored by pharmaceutical company Amgen and led by the UK’s Institute of Cancer Research, it found a quarter of patients given T-Vec responded to the treatment.
Of those, 10% saw their tumors disappear completely, while 16% saw their tumors shrink by half.
Although it could take a year before a decision is made, the European Medicines Agency is now considering whether to approve the drug’s use.
The phase-three clinical trial results, the last step before a medicine is licensed, have been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.