The genetically engineered herpes virus is a new hope in defeating cancer after scientists discovered that tumors in terminally ill patients had been eradicated or reduced with a breakthrough new therapy.
An early study at the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in London revealed that a modified version of the herpes simplex virus showed signs of effectiveness in a quarter of patients with end-stage cancer.
The infection, which also causes oral and sexually transmitted wounds, acts on cancer by producing molecules that trigger the immune system’s response and infecting and destroying the cancer.
It has been tested on 39 cancer patients, including people suffering from skin, esophagus, head and neck cancers.
A patient in West London considered this a “real miracle” after he was able to return to work as a builder.
The genetically modified herpes virus is a new hope in defeating cancer after scientists discovered that tumors in terminally ill patients had been eradicated with a new therapy. In the photo: stock photo
Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, was diagnosed with mucocutaneous carcinoma, a type of salivary gland cancer, in May 2017, and after many operations he was told that he could no longer be treated.
“I had injections every two weeks for five weeks which completely wiped out my cancer,” he said. “I’ve been cancer-free for two years now, it’s a real miracle, there’s no other word to describe it.
“Again I have been able to work as a builder and spend time with my family, there’s nothing I can’t do.”
Mr. Wojkowski added: “I was told there were no options for me and I received custody at the end of my life, it was devastating, so it was unbelievable that I could join the Royal Marsden trial, it was my last lifeline.”
He was tested on 39 cancer patients, including cancer of the skin, esophagus, and head and neck, including a West London patient who hailed him a “true miracle” after he was able to return to work as a builder (stock photo of a woman supporting patient )
The research team hopes to move on to larger research after presenting the study to the Congress of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO).
Study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, professor of Cancer Biological Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: “Our study shows that a genetically modified cancer-killing virus can strike cancer twice – directly destroying cancer cells from within, while calling the system immune against them.
Oral herpes can be spread through kissing or a toothbrush
Herpes 1, or oral herpes, is the more common viral strain, affecting about two-thirds of all people under the age of 50.
Oral herpes got its name because, of course, it primarily causes sores or blisters around the mouth.
However, over the past few decades, HSV 1 wounds have become more frequent in the genital or anal area.
HSV 2, or genital herpes, mainly affects these areas and is less common, affecting only about 16 percent of the population.
Viruses are highly portable during an epidemic.
HSV 1 can be spread by kissing or sharing items such as utensils and toothbrushes.
In contrast, genital herpes can usually only be spread through sexual contact.
Once the HSV 2 virus is in someone’s body, it will be there for many years, for a lifetime, and there is no cure for it.
But antiviral drugs can keep outbreaks to a minimum and can reduce the risk of transmission.
Or at least they could, before HSV 2 and HSV 1 started having “sex.”
Source: NHS / Healthline
A consultant oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust added: “It is rare to see such good response rates in early clinical trials because their primary goal is to test the safety of treatment and include patients with very advanced cancers for whom current treatments have stopped working.
“Our preliminary research results suggest that a genetically modified form of the herpes virus has the potential to become a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancer – including those who have not responded to other forms of immunotherapy. I’d love to see if we still see the benefits when we treat more patients. ”
The genetically modified RP2 virus, which is injected directly into the tumor, has a double effect against tumors.
It multiplies in cancer cells to tear them apart from the inside, and it also blocks a protein known as CTLA-4 – slowing down the brakes of the immune system and increasing its ability to kill cancer cells.
Three of the nine patients treated for herpes benefited from one patient with salivary gland cancer in which the tumor had completely disappeared and remained cancer-free 15 months after starting treatment.
Seven of the 30 patients who received both RP2 and nivolumab immunotherapy also benefited from treatment.
In four out of nine skin melanoma patients, two out of eight patients with uveal melanoma eye cancer and one in three head and neck cancer patients experienced inhibition or reduction of tumor growth.
Of the seven patients receiving the combination who noticed a benefit, six remained progressive at 14 months.
Professor Kristian Helin, CEO of The Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: “Viruses are some of the oldest enemies of mankind, as we all saw during the pandemic. However, our new research suggests that we can take advantage of some of the traits that make opponents a challenge to infect and kill cancer cells.
“This is a small study, but preliminary findings are promising. I sincerely hope that as this research develops, we can see that patients continue to benefit. ‘