THEREFORE, cancer patients are prescribed therapy that uses the herpes virus to destroy cells.
Doctors in the UK have developed a new treatment that also increases immune system.
Modified version herpes simplex virusknown as RP2, showed signs of effectiveness in a quarter of patients who progressed oncological diseases.
Patients who participated in the trial in London had a number of cancers.
Among them the skin, esophageal and head and neck cancer.
Doctors have exhausted other treatments in these cases, and these patients have also failed to respond to some immunotherapies.
Experts from the Institute of Cancer Research in London tested the virus on nine patients.
They also tested it in another 30 patients in combination with nivolumab immunotherapy.
The genetically modified virus was injected directly into the patient’s tumors.
It is designed to multiply inside cancer cells to tear them apart from the inside.
It also blocks a protein known as CTLA-4, releasing the brakes on the immune system and increasing its ability to kill cancer cells.
Three of the nine patients who received RP2 alone benefited from the treatment and saw their tumors shrink.
Doctors found that one patient with salivary gland cancer had a tumor completely gone and remained cancer-free – 15 months after starting treatment.
Two patients, one with esophageal cancer and uvea melanoma found that the cancer had spread to the liver.
Thanks to the treatment, they saw their cancer shrink, and 15 months after treatment, their disease did not progress.
Seven of the 30 patients who received both RP2 and nivolumab immunotherapy also benefited from the treatment.
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Of the seven patients who received the combination and who saw benefit, six had no progression at 14 months.
Study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapy at the Institute of Cancer Research in London and consultant oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said it was rare to see such a good response from a study.
“Our research shows that a genetically engineered cancer-killing virus can deliver a one-two punch on tumors – directly destroying cancer cells from the inside while provoking the immune system against them.
“Our initial trial results suggest that a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus could potentially be a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancer, including those who have not responded to other forms of immunotherapy.”
Side effects from the treatment were mild, the researchers said.
The most common ones are included feverchills and fatigue.
They emphasized that none of these side effects were serious enough to require medical attention.
Professor Christian Hellin, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said viruses could be used to kill cancer cells.
He added: “Viruses are one of humanity’s oldest enemies, as we all saw during the pandemic.
“But our new research shows that we can exploit some of the features that make them tough opponents in infecting and killing cancer cells. This is a small study, but the initial findings are promising.”