Herpes virus cures terminal cancer

UK Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research have developed a new therapy to kill cancer cells and strengthen the immune system with a genetically modified herpes virus.

The study, published on September 23, revealed that a genetically modified virus called RP2 was injected directly into the tumor, thereby multiplying and disrupting cancer cells from within. The virus can also block a protein called CTLA-4 that weakens the immune system. From there, the body has more chances to fight cancer. In addition, RP2 also produces molecules that activate the immune system to fight the disease.

The therapy has been tested in 39 cancer patients, including skin, esophageal, head and neck cancers. Volunteers failed to respond to other treatments.

In early trials, the tumors of 25% of volunteers with late-stage cancer stopped growing, shrunk or disappeared altogether.

Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, was one of the trial participants. Since completing treatment in 2020, his disease has not recurred. He received injections every two weeks for a year to completely eliminate the cancer.

"I was told I had no other choice and was receiving my last form of therapy. I have been cancer free for two years now. This is truly a miracle, there are no other words to describe it. I can go back to work and spend time with my family," he said.

Herpes simplex is a common infectious virus that is present in many people without causing any problems. The researchers looked at biopsies of patients before and after RP2 injections. They noticed positive changes in the "immune environment" of the tumor and its surrounding areas.

Herpes virus illustration. Photo: Native Antigen Company

Following injection, the drug produces many immune cells, including CD8+ T cells and genes that trigger an anti-cancer immune response.

The team said the side effects of RP2 were mild. The most common reactions were fever, chills, and fatigue. No patient required medical intervention.

Professor Kristian Helin, CEO of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "Viruses are one of humanity's oldest enemies. However, our new research shows how to exploit them. properties that make them fight infectious agents, thereby killing cancer cells. This is a small, but promising study."

According to Kevin Harrington, professor of biological cancer therapies at the Institute of Cancer Research, the genetically engineered virus can directly attack cancer cells from within, while also calling on the immune system. against them.

"It's rare that a clinical trial has such a good response rate in the early stages. Because our main purpose is just to test safety," Mr. Harrington said.

Preliminary findings suggest that the genetically engineered herpes virus could become a new treatment option for some patients with late-stage cancer who have not responded to other treatments.

"I look forward to seeing if we continue to get the same results as we increase the number of patients treated," said Professor Harrington.

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