Drug based on herpes successfully treats skin cancer patients

A modified version of the herpes virus has been used to treat skin cancer patients, and one in four have responded positively to the treatment, remaining in remission at least six months afterwards. The results come from a clinical trial in the UK involving more than 400 patients with aggressive melanoma, who signed up to be treated through virotherapy – a technique that uses altered viruses to attack specific pathogens such as cancer cells. “This is the big promise of this treatment. It’s the first time a virotherapy has been shown to be successful in a phase 3 trial,” lead researcher Kevin Harrington, from the Institute of Cancer Research London, told Hannah Devlin at The Guardian.

The herpes-based drug, named Talimogene Laherparepvec (T-VEC), has proven so effective, Harrington and his team hope to see it on the market by 2016. A successful phase 3 trial means the only remaining hurdle for it to be sold commercially in the US and Europe by pharmaceuticals company, Amgen, is to get approval from the FDA and the European Medicines Agency. The drug is administered once every two weeks for up to 18 months, and while participants in the trial received flu-like side effects after the first few injections, this was far preferable to the side effects that come with chemotherapy drugs. Source: Drug based on herpes successfully treats skin cancer patients

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