Cancer-killing virus fights liver tumors

Cancer-killing virus fights liver tumors

Postby PharmD » Wed Sep 14, 2011 1:39 pm

A genetically engineered herpes virus designed to kill cancer cells but leave normal tissue unharmed, has shown promise in early clinical trials, scientists said on Saturday.

The idea of ​​injecting cancer patients with a live virus may seem odd, but researchers believe viruses - which are experts at killing cells - could one day become a valuable addition to the medical arsenal against cancer.

Recent advances in a small study with MediGene AG virus NV1020 was presented at the annual European Society for Medical Oncology conference in Lugano, Switzerland.

NV1020 is a modified version of the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores. Your genetic makeup has been altered that so it only replicates in cancer cells, destroying them in the process, leaving normal cells alone.

The German biotechnology company has previously announced positive results from an interim analysis of a 13 Phase I / II study of NV1020 in September, but efficacy data from a case study was first presented at the meeting in Switzerland.

Axel Meschede, MediGene chief of research, described the case of a very late stage of the patients whose cancer had spread to 10 different places around the liver and four in the lungs.

He was given four weekly infusions of the virus followed by two cycles of chemotherapy and six months after treatment showed that scans of his liver tumors had nearly disappeared. The patient survived for 12 months after surgery.

"The reduction in tumor mass was really impressive in this patient. Hepatic (liver) masses almost disappeared," Meschede said in a statement.

"The results are really encouraging at this early stage."

The treatment of liver cancer is very difficult and the prognosis of patients is very poor. Many people with colorectal cancer, in particular, are at risk of their cancer metastasize, or spread, in the liver.

The encouraging results with the virus in early human studies follow tests on animals, which demonstrates that NV1020 was effective at killing colon cancer cells and liver.

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