A genetically engineered herpes virus has emerged as a new hope for defeating cancer after scientists discovered that tumors in terminally ill patients were eradicated by new treatments.Pictured: stock images

London scientists find cancer tumors in terminally ill patients can be eradicated by herpes virus

A genetically engineered cold sore virus is a new hope for beating cancer after scientists found it could eradicate or shrink tumors in terminally ill patients.

In an early trial at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London, patients were injected with a weakened form of the herpes simplex virus modified to kill cancer cells.

The injection is injected directly into the tumor, attacking it in two ways—invading cells and causing them to burst and boosting the immune system.

RP2 was tested on 39 cancer patients, including those with tumors of the skin, esophagus, and head and neck.

A patient from west London has hailed the drug as a “true miracle” after being able to return to work as a construction worker.

Overall, three of the nine patients treated with RP2 saw their tumors shrink. Seven of the 30 patients who received drugs and immunotherapy also improved.

While larger studies are needed, the drug could provide a lifeline for patients with advanced cancer.

A genetically engineered herpes virus has emerged as a new hope for defeating cancer after scientists discovered that tumors in terminally ill patients were eradicated by new treatments.Pictured: stock images

Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, was diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a salivary gland cancer, in May 2017.

After multiple surgeries to remove the tumor, he was told there were no treatment options.

What is RP2?

RP2 is a genetically engineered cold sore virus called herpes simplex virus.

It has been weakened and modified to seek out and destroy cancer cells.

The injection goes directly into the tumor and attacks it in two ways.

It multiplies inside cancer cells, blasting them from the inside.

It also blocks a protein called CTLA-4 — which releases the brakes on the immune system and increases the body’s ability to kill cancer cells on its own.

RP2 was tested on 39 cancer patients, including those with skin, esophageal and head and neck cancers.

Three of the nine patients treated for herpes saw their tumors shrink.

One of them – a construction worker with salivary gland cancer – saw his tumor completely disappear.

After 15 months, he is still cancer free.

Seven of the 30 patients who received RP2 and the immunotherapy nivolumab also benefited from the treatment.

In this group, cancer growth stopped or shrank in four out of nine patients with melanoma skin cancer, two out of eight patients with eye cancer uveal melanoma, and one in three patients with head and neck cancer.

Of the 7 patients who received the combination therapy, 6 remained progression-free at 14 months.

“I had injections every two weeks for five weeks to completely eradicate my cancer,” he said.

“I’ve been cancer-free for two years and it’s a real miracle that there are no other words to describe it.

“I was able to be a builder again and spend time with my family, there’s nothing I can’t do.”

Mr Wojkowski added: “I was told I had no choice, I was in hospice and it was devastating, so to have the opportunity to go to the Royal Marsden trial was unbelievable, it was my last lifeline .’

The research team hopes to conduct a larger trial after presenting the study at the European Society of Medical Oncology Congress (ESMO).

Study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapeutics at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Our study shows that a genetically engineered cancer-fighting virus can deliver a hit or two to a tumor – directly destroying the cancer cells. “It also calls on the immune system to fight them.

The Consultant Oncologist, The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, added: “It is rare to see such good response rates in early clinical trials because their main aim is to test the safety of the treatment and they involve very For patients with advanced cancer, the current treatment has stopped working.

“Our preliminary trial results suggest that a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus could be a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancer — including those who don’t respond to other forms of immunotherapy. I’d love to see as we get more More and more patients, will we continue to see benefits.

The genetically engineered RP2 virus injected directly into the tumor is designed to have a dual effect on the tumor.

It proliferates inside cancer cells to burst them from the inside, and it also blocks a protein called CTLA-4 — which releases the brakes on the immune system and increases its ability to kill cancer cells.

Three of the nine patients treated for herpes benefited, and one patient with salivary gland cancer saw his tumor disappear completely and remained cancer-free 15 months after starting treatment.

Seven of the 30 patients who received RP2 and the immunotherapy nivolumab also benefited from the treatment.

In this group, cancer growth stopped or shrank in four out of nine patients with melanoma skin cancer, two out of eight patients with eye cancer uveal melanoma, and one in three patients with head and neck cancer.

Of the 7 patients who received the combination therapy, 6 remained progression-free at 14 months.

Professor Christian Herring, chief executive of the Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Viruses are one of humanity’s oldest enemies, as we have seen in this pandemic. But our new research shows that we can use some Make them challenge the traits of their opponents to infect and kill cancer cells.

“This is a small study, but the initial findings are promising. I am very hopeful that as this study expands, we will see continued patient benefit.

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