Story at a glance
Researchers are testing a modified cold sore virus to help fight cancer.
Encoded in the virus are the instructions to produce a specific antibody.
Preliminary results from a phase 1 clinical trial suggest that this therapy may work in reducing the size of tumors.
Researchers have genetically modified a herpes virus to direct an antibody to “destroy tumors and to generate an anti-tumor immune response,” described in the clinical trial website.
The herpes virus is one of the types of viruses that cause cold sores.
The cold-virus-therapy, called RP2, is in phase 1 clinical trials, with 36 participants enrolled, and the preliminary results are promising.
According to BBC News, the findings were presented at a medical conference in Paris. Overall, the data showed that tumors shrank in three out of nine patients given RP2, and seven out of 30 who had a combined treatment also seemed to benefit. Side effects like tiredness were generally mild. One participant explained to the BBC that they got injections every two weeks for five weeks and subsequently were cancer free for the following two years.
“It is rare to see such good response rates in early stage clinical trials, as their primary aim is to test treatment safety, and they involve patients with very advanced cancers for whom current treatments have stopped working,” says lead researcher Kevin Harington at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust to the BBC.
Similar technology from this team was approved in the United Kingdom to treat skin cancer. In order to get approval for RP2 to treat solid tumors, there will need to be more clinical trials with a larger group of people.