According to new research, a genetically modified strain of the Herpes Simplex Virus has proven to be effective in killing cancer cells and preventing the growth of tumors. The strain, referred to as T-Vec, was used to treat melanoma patients. This is reported to be the final phase of testing a new drug.
Cancer is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. While many treatments are available, including chemotherapy and radiation therapy, they often come with unwanted side effects. In recent years, scientists have been exploring alternative methods for treating cancer, and one potential avenue is the use of viruses.
One virus that has shown promise in the fight against cancer is the herpes simplex virus (HSV). While most people think of HSV as the virus that causes cold sores, it has a much broader potential use in cancer treatment.
HSV and Cancer
The herpes simplex virus is a type of virus that infects the skin and mucous membranes. It can cause various symptoms, from mild sores to more serious infections. However, in recent years, researchers have found that HSV has the potential to be used as a tool in the fight against cancer.
HSV is particularly useful for cancer treatment because it can infect and kill cancer cells, leaving healthy cells unharmed. Cancer cells have a weakened immune system, making them more vulnerable to attack by the virus.
People suffering from the herpes virus should be encouraged to take medication regularly to prevent or reduce outbreaks. Those drugs also help reduce the risk of passing it to partners.
How HSV Works as a Cancer Treatment
The herpes simplex virus works by infecting cancer cells and then replicating inside them. As the virus replicates, it causes the cancer cell to burst, releasing thousands of new virus particles. These particles then infect and kill other cancer cells in the area.
In addition to directly killing cancer cells, the herpes simplex virus can stimulate the immune system. This can help the body’s natural defences to recognize and attack cancer cells, further enhancing the effectiveness of the treatment.
Clinical Trials Using HSV for Cancer Treatment
Several clinical trials in recent years have explored the use of HSV as a cancer treatment. One study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that patients with advanced melanoma who received a high dose of HSV responded better to treatment than those who received a lower dose.
Another study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that patients with recurrent glioblastoma who received an injection of HSV directly into their brain tumours had a higher survival rate than those who did not.
While these studies are still in the early stages, they show promising results and suggest that HSV could be a useful tool in the fight against cancer.
Potential Side Effects of HSV Treatment
Like any cancer treatment, the use of HSV comes with potential side effects. These can include fever, fatigue, and pain at the injection site. However, these side effects are generally mild and temporary and do not cause long-term harm to the patient.
Unlike the widely known chemotherapy, which tends to kill any proliferating cells the virus narrowly targets cancer cells and kills them. This is touted to be a highly efficient approach to fight against the disease. Another benefit of this method is that it activates the immune system to fight against cancer.
The study was conducted on 400 patients with melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer. It was found that over 16% of the patients receiving the T-Vec treatment showed a lasting response for six months. On the other hand, a mere 2% of the people that were given standard treatment showed any signs of improvement.
Chief Executing of the Institute of Cancer Research, Prof. Paul Workman, said, “We may normally think of viruses as the enemies of mankind. But it’s their very ability to specifically infect and kill human cells that can make them such promising cancer treatments.” The drug, which Amgen is producing, is awaiting approval from the FDA.
The use of the herpes simplex virus as a cancer treatment is an exciting area of research that has the potential to revolutionize the way we treat cancer. While there is still much to learn about how HSV can be used in this context. The early results are promising and suggest that this virus could be an effective tool in the fight against cancer.