Modified Herpes Virus Shows Promise to Kill Cancer Cells – With One Patient Watching Disease Go Away | british news

A modified herpes virus has shown promise for killing cancer cells – with one patient seeing the disease disappear completely.

Patients were injected with a drug that was a weakened form of the cold sore virus — herpes simplex — that has been modified to kill tumors.

While more research is needed, it could provide a lifeline for people with advanced cancer.

Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, a builder from West London, went from end-of-life care to cancer-free after participating in the trial.

Mr. Wojkowski was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a type of salivary gland cancer, in May 2017.

Despite multiple surgeries, he was told there were no more treatment options before he had the chance to participate in the RP2 study at The Royal Marsden in 2020.

He said: “I was told there were no more options for me and I was given end-of-life care, it was devastating so it was incredible to have the chance to take part in the trial at The Royal Marsden, it was my last lifeline.

“I had injections every two weeks for five weeks that completely eradicated my cancer. I have been cancer free for two years now, it is a true miracle, there is no other word to describe it.

“I’ve been able to work as a contractor again and spend time with my family, there’s nothing I can’t do.”

The genetically engineered virus, injected directly into the tumors, is designed to do a double job: it multiplies in cancer cells to burst them from the inside, and it also blocks a protein known as CTLA-4, releasing the brakes on the immune system and increasing its ability to kill cancer cells.

Image: Carcinoma of the salivary gland.  Credit: Nephron, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Image: Carcinoma of the salivary gland. Credit: Nephron, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rarely seen such promise in early trials

Three of the nine patients treated with RP2 saw their tumors shrink.

Seven of 30 patients who received both RP2 and the immunotherapy nivolumab also benefited from treatment.

In this group, four out of nine melanoma patients saw skin cancer, two out of eight eye cancer patients with uveal melanoma, and one in three head and neck cancer patients saw the growth of their cancer stop or shrink.

Of the seven patients who received the combination and saw a benefit, six remained progression-free after 14 months.

It’s rare to see such a good response in early-stage clinical trials, according to study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and oncologist consultant at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “Our study shows that a genetically engineered, cancer-killing virus can deliver a one-two punch against tumors — destroying cancer cells directly from the inside while calling on the immune system against them.

“It’s rare to see such good response rates in early stage clinical trials because their primary goal is to test the safety of the treatment and it involves patients with very advanced cancers for whom current treatments are no longer working.

“Our initial research results suggest that a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus could potentially become a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancers – including those who have failed to respond to other forms of immunotherapy.

“I’m curious to see if we continue to see benefits as we treat a larger number of patients.”

Harnessing the Characteristics of Viruses

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said it was possible to abuse some of the properties of viruses.

They said: “Viruses are one of humanity’s oldest enemies, as we’ve all seen during the pandemic. But our new research suggests we may be exploiting some of the features that cause them to challenge adversaries to infect and kill cancer cells.” kill.

“It’s a small study, but the early findings are promising. I really hope that as this research expands, we see patients continue to benefit.”

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