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 Post subject: Viruses to treat Cancer
PostPosted: 16 Jun 2013 23:10 
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Harnessing the Oncolytic Power of Viruses

At the annual meeting of the American society of oncology, a paper was presented on treatment of Advanced Melanoma by immunotherapy. The treatment is based on using viruses to treat cancer. In a trial on 400 patients with aggressive Melanoma treated by the new method they achieved complete or partial remission in 16% compared with 2% in a control group.

The cancer-killing virus talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) offers the first oncolytic immunotherapy to demonstrate therapeutic benefit against melanoma in a phase III trial. Researchers engineered T-VEC by taking herpes simplex virus type-1 (a largely innocuous virus that causes cold sores), modified it genetically knocking out its herpes-causing capacity and transformed it into a cancer-killing machine. One of the key genetic modifications introduced into the virus is the gene encoding GM-CSF.

After injection into a patient’s tumor, T-VEC selectively replicates in tumor tissue, secreting GM-CSF in the process. As the virus multiplies they eventually rupture the tumour cells, spilling the new viruses, GM-CSF, and an array of tumor-specific antigens in to the surrounding area, triggering an immune reaction against the cancerous tissue. Newly released GM-CSF acts as a beacon to inflammation-responsive dendritic cells, which process and present the tumor-specific antigens to T cells that then become programmed to seek and destroy antigen-bearing tumor cells throughout the body. The Virotherapy is used alongside conventional therapy.

One of the presenters at the meeting, Howard L. Kaufman, MD, of Rush University Medical Center noted that the durable responses were particularly enhanced in patients who had nonvisceral disease (stage IIB/C, stage IV M1a) and in those who received T-VEC as first-line therapy.


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