Cancer-fighting version of herpes shows promise in early human trial

An example of a herpes simplex virus.

An example of a herpes simplex virus.
illustration, Shutterstock ,Shutterstock,

Scientists may be able to turn a longtime germ foe into a cancer-fighting ally, new research suggests this week. In preliminary data from a phase I trial, a genetically modified version of the herpes virus has shown promise in treating difficult-to-elimate tumors, with one patient experiencing complete remission for 15 months so far. However, more research will be needed to confirm the initial success of the treatment.

The viral treatment is known as RP2 and is a genetically engineered strain of herpes simplex 1, the virus responsible for most cases of oral herpes in humans, as well as some cases of genital herpes. Developed by Replimune Company, RP2 is created To work on two fronts. Injected directly into a tumor, the virus is thought to selectively infect and kill certain cancer cells. But it also blocks the expression of a protein called CTLA-4 produced by these cells, and it hijacks their machinery to produce another molecule called GM-CSF. The net result of these cellular changes is a weakening of the cancer’s ability to hide and defend itself from the immune system.

In a phase I trial conducted by scientists from The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in the UK, RP2 was given as the only treatment for nine patients with advanced cancer who failed to respond to other treatments. are; It was also given in combination with another immunotherapy drug to 30 patients. Three patients on RP2 alone responded to treatment, meaning their cancers shrank or stopped growing, and seven patients on combination therapy also responded. One patient in particular, as a carcinoma with his salivary gland, showed no signs of cancer for at least 15 months after treatment with RP2 alone. No life-threatening adverse events were reported in the trial, with the most common symptoms following treatment being fever, chills, and other flu-like illness.

conclusion, Presented These are preliminary at the 2022 European Society for Medical Oncology Congress (ESMO) this week, as they have yet to be screened through a formal peer review process. They are also based on very small sample sizes, which means that any results should be taken with caution. But the purpose of the first phase trials is not to show that a treatment is effective, only that it is safe enough for humans. So the fact that some people with seemingly incurable cancer are already responding to RP2, the team argues, is a pretty good indication that it may be living up to its potential.

“Our study shows that a genetically engineered, cancer-killing virus can deliver a one-two punch against tumors – destroying cancer cells directly from within, while also calling the immune system against them. Could,” said lead author Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer. Medicine at the Cancer Research Institute, a . In Statement from the organization.

वैज्ञानिक रहे हैं hopeful About the virus that has been fighting cancer for a long time. But recently this hope is finally starting to pay off. In 2015, the first viral therapy was Approved For some advanced cases of melanoma in the US. This May, scientists in California began a phase I clinical trial of their anticancer virus, called Vaccinia, other companies are developing their own candidates, either alone or in combination with other treatments. and Replimune is developing two other candidates based on their modified herpes virus.

While many experimental treatments ultimately fail to cross the finish line and reach the masses, it is possible that at least some of these viruses may one day become a new standard cancer treatment.

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