Herpes Virus Used To Cure Skin Cancer
A genetically modified version of the herpes cold sore virus has been found to completely destroy tumours in some patients. It is currently on trial and scientists hope that it will be made available to the health care industry as early as next year.
The skin cancer cure is in its third stage of trials, the last stage before a medication can be licensed, and is being tested on patients with inoperable tumours.
One in 10 patients of the 26% who were responsive to the herpes virus treatment – known as T-Vec – found their tumours vanished completely.
Another 16% of responding patients saw a “partial remission” that more than halved the size of their tumour.
The Skin Cancer Treatment Works as Follows:
The herpes cold sore virus has two important genes removed which prevent it from replicating in healthy skin cells. It can then only replicate in cancerous skin cells.
This does two things; the first is that the herpes virus will begin attacking the cancer cells directly, the second is that the presence of the herpes virus in the body triggers an auto-immune response causing the body to attack the herpes virus and by extension the cancer cells.
This is an improvement on treatments such as chemotherapy which are generalized attacks on the body with no ability to target the specific cancerous regions.
Professor Harrington said: “It’s not an exaggeration to say this is a first-in-class agent, an entirely new type of anti-cancer treatment.
“There will have to be discussions about cost effectiveness but we hope to see this agent receive approval in about the next 12 months, making it possible to prescribe it for cancer.
“There is increasing excitement over the use of viral treatments like T-Vec for cancer, because they can launch a two-pronged attack on tumours – both killing cancer cells directly and marshalling the immune system against them.
“And because viral treatment can target cancer cells specifically, it tends to have fewer side-effects than traditional chemotherapy or some of the other new immunotherapies.”
The patients in who received the treatment in trial have been in remission for up to three years.