Genetically Engineered Cancer-Killing Herpes Virus
A new type of genetically engineered herpes virus has shown promising results in treating difficult-to-radicate tumors. The treatment has allowed patients to maintain a complete remission for 15 months. However, more research will be needed to confirm the early results.
During the last century, scientists discovered that viruses had the ability to kill cancer cells. The first recorded case of an oncolytic virus killing cancer cells was that of an Italian woman bitten by a dog in 1904. The woman received a weakened form of the rabies virus in an attempt to treat her disease. After receiving the vaccine, the woman was able to live cancer-free for eight years. For several decades, oncolytic virus research was dormant, but breakthroughs in the 1990s revived the field. During this time, scientists learned how to genetically alter the herpes virus to maximize its cancer-fighting abilities.
The first step to using this Cancer-Killing Herpes Virus is proving to be an incredibly difficult task: delivering it to the tumor site. Current oncolytic viruses must be injected directly into the tumor. However, the next generation of viruses will be able to circulate throughout the body and target cancer cells wherever they have spread.
A genetically engineered Cancer-Killing Herpes Virus known as G207 may be able to help patients with rare cancers. The Cancer-Killing Herpes Virus is designed to target tumor cells and stimulate an immune response against them. It is already approved for treating melanoma in the U.S.
CF33-hNIS VAXINIA Cancer-Killing Herpes Virus
City of Hope in Los Angeles is developing CF33-hNIS, a genetically engineered oncolytic herpes virus that has been tested on mice and may be able to fight cancer. The oncolytic virus is designed to invade cancerous tissue and destroy it. It replicates inside cancer cells and bursts, releasing thousands of copies of the virus. The virus then stimulates the immune system to target cancer.
The drug will be given to people in low doses, either by direct injection or intravenously. It will be given in conjunction with pembrolizumab, an antibody treatment already in use for cancer immunotherapy. The combination of CF33-hNIS and pembrolizumab could make the treatment more effective.
The vaccine was developed by the City of Hope surgical oncologist Yuman Fong. He has been developing viruses for 30 years. In his research, he didn’t add many safety ingredients and used only the most effective ones, like the ones that kill cancer cells. Moreover, he created a genetically modified virus, RP2, that has been shown to help fight cancer in human patients.
Although CF33-hNIS VAXIGNIA isn’t yet approved for use in humans, scientists have hoped to develop it for clinical trials. Currently, it’s being used as an experimental treatment in many advanced cancers. The initial results have been promising, and the team hopes to identify cancer patients for phase II clinical trials.