Adonis Diaries

First cancer-killing virus approved by FDA: Talimogene laherparepvec

Posted on: November 9, 2015

First cancer-killing virus approved by FDA:  Talimogene laherparepvec

A  modified live oncolytic herpes virus.

Significance so far is in the proof-of-concept that virus can kill cancer.

Apparently, the patients survive on average 4.4 months to their terminal illness. (So funny these accurate numbers: a few will die within a couple of days of being injected with the virus)

Most accepted cancer treatments in modern medicine come with a lot of collateral damage.

Cancer cells are simply more susceptible to radiation and chemotherapy than healthy cells because of their higher metabolism, but what if we could target cancer specifically?

This is finally becoming a reality with a new cancer-killing virus that has just been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The virus is called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC, brand name Imlygic), and it’s programmed to seek out and destroy advanced melanoma skin cancer.

 Patsy Z shared this link
Scientists have known for decades that it’s technically feasible to fight cancer with viruses.
After all, as part of the unregulated growth that is the hallmark of cancer, many of the antiviral defenses of these cells are switched off.
Creating a virus that could kill cancer cells while leaving normal ones alone has proven a problem — one that has been solved by biotech firm Amgen.
This specific treatment is only modestly effective, but it’s a big step in the treatment of disease as a whole.
Imlygic is a modified live oncolytic herpes virus.
The genetic code of the virus has been significantly altered so that it’s unable to kill normal human cells. However, it’s quite good at taking out cancerous melanoma in the skin and lymph nodes.
When the virus particles are injected into a melanoma lesion, they invade the cells, take over the cellular machinery, and eventually cause the cell to rupture.
The virus has also been tweaked to increase production of a protein called GM-CSF. The release of this protein increases immune response to help the body fight back.
However, it’s not clear how much of the cancer suppression is due to the virus alone and how much is happening with the aid of stimulated immune cells.

That all sounds great, but Imlygic isn’t going to instantly cure melanoma.

In a clinical study of 436 patients, Imlygic was able to extend survival by 4.4 months in those with advanced melanoma.

That’s not a dramatic improvement, but doctors believe that in combination with other treatments, the virus could have a more significant impact. This modest extension of life also comes with a hefty price tag of $65,000, at least at the moment.

The true significance of this treatment is as a proof-of-concept.

Biotechnology has reached the point that we can tailor a virus to do our dirty work for us, and the side effects are no worse than standard medications.

Other researchers are working with vaccinia (poxvirus), reovirus, and poliovirus particles as a way to eventually target other types of cancer.

Future versions of this technology might not come with the same caveats, but it’s probably still going to be pretty expensive

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November 2015

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