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“Trojan horse” .. a genetically modified virus that promises to cure terminally ill cancer patients

British scientists report that a genetically modified herpes simplex virus can destroy or shrink tumors in patients who are already ill.

Scientists have hailed a “Trojan horse” therapy that uses a modified herpes virus to kill cancer cells as a “genetic engineering marvel”, and an early trial is finally extending patients’ lives.

A new oncolytic virotherapy being tested at three UK hospitals injects RP2, a modified version of the herpes simplex virus (HSV), directly into patients’ tumors to kill the cancer.

The modified virus attacks the cancer in two ways; It first invades and causes cancer cells to explode, and then kills virus-infected cells by stimulating toxic T cells in the immune system.

The first trial of RP2 produced surprising results, with three of nine critically ill patients finding their terminal tumors shrinking.

Currently, only 16 people with advanced cancer worldwide have been cured in the phase 1 trial of RP2, but a new study aims to test it in 30 patients, 24 of whom have solid tumors.

“Larger and longer studies are needed, but the injection could provide lifelines to more people,” said Professor Hans-Ulrich Lasch, an interventional radiologist at the Christie’s Cancer Center in Manchester, who injected viral therapy in experimental patients. with advanced cancers. “.

This new method is called oncolytic virus therapy (OVT) and is a new type of cancer immunotherapy that helps the immune system fight cancer.

Oncolytic virus therapy uses natural or genetically modified viruses to specifically infect and kill cancer cells without harming healthy cells.

In this experiment to treat the oncolytic virus, the US-based biotech company Replimune Inc. It uses a new drug called RP2, which is designed to grow and destroy cancer cells.

Scientists believe that oncolytic virotherapy may change the way many cancers are treated in the future.

Dr Sarah Valbion, Consulting Oncologist at Christie’s NHS Trust, said: “We know how dangerous viruses can be, but thanks to new technology and cancer scientists, viruses can also be used for good. And this new treatment is currently only available in clinical trials.” “The herpes virus that causes cold sores is genetically modified, it enters the tumor and fights cancer like a Trojan horse. This new virus works in two ways. It damages cancer cells while also making them worse. They appeal to our immune system. defenses so they can be targeted and killed by the immune system.”

Since an important part of the experiment is the constant monitoring of the safety of the patients, the scientists weakened the virus to reduce the risks of the patients. Along with the virus, patients will also receive immunotherapy to strengthen the body’s immune system and help the body. destroy cancer cells.”

He said: “This therapy could provide a lifeline for patients who have not responded to conventional drugs, with the hope of not only seeing a response, but possible remission for those with cancer without cure It is truly a genetic engineering that is amazing, showing early results, more diverse It adds to our arsenal.” rapid advancement of technology.

Source: Express

Source: Arabic RT

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