Genetically modify the herpes virus to fight cancer

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Genetically modify the herpes virus to fight cancer

Scientists continue to work on new methods to fight cancer which is one of the diseases that are difficult to treat. Recently, researchers came up with the idea of genetically modify a strain of the herpes virus so that this behaves like a cancer killer in humans. The results of the first tests are encouraging, and the treatment seems to have no adverse effects.

For a long time, the oncolytic viruses have been considered by scientists to be potential weapons against cancer. However, it is only in recent years, thanks to the arrival of the genetic engineeringthat it has been possible to modify viruses to serve as a treatment.

Herpes Simplex Virus

According to Kristian Helen of the Institute of Cancer Research, “viruses are among the oldest enemies of humanity”but the study they did suggests that it is possible to exploit some of their characteristics to infect and kill cancer cells.

The method used by the researchers

During their study, the scientists manipulated a strain of the herpes simplex virus. The genetically modified virus, called RP2has been modified in such a way that it can multiply inside cancer cellsthe goal being to inflate and explode them.

The virus was designed to be injected directly into tumours. But it can also play the role of an alarm for the immune system, ie it will attract the cells of the organism specialized in the destruction of cancerous cells.

The first results

The results of the phase 1 trials were recently presented at a conference in Europe. The tests in question were carried out on 39 patients.

According to the results, 3 of the 9 patients who directly tested the treatment have seen their tumors shrink. On the other hand, 7 of the remaining 30 patients achieved good results using a combination of treatment with another immunotherapy.

According to the explanations, this first phase of the tests was intended to determine if the treatment does not cause serious side effects. The patients’ cancers were of different types, but in the future, researchers will try to see which types of cancer may be the best fit for treatment.

Kevin Harrington, a researcher working on the project, said it was rare to see such good results in the early stages of clinical trials. The main objective of these phases is indeed to test whether the treatment is safe, and the participants are generally patients with already very advanced cancers that existing treatments can no longer cure.

SOURCE: newatlas

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