Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Viral Attack on Melanoma

Several years ago we started following TVEC a viral attack approach on melanoma. According to Nature:

An engineered herpesvirus that provokes an immune response against cancer has become the first treatment of its kind to be approved for use in the United States, paving the way for a long-awaited class of therapies. On 27 October, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a genetically engineered virus called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) to treat advanced melanoma. Four days earlier, advisers to the European Medicines Agency had endorsed the drug. With dozens of ongoing clinical trials of similar ‘oncolytic’ viruses, researchers hope that the approval will generate the enthusiasm and cash needed to spur further development of the approach. “The era of the oncolytic virus is probably here,” says Stephen Russell, a cancer researcher and haematologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “I expect to see a great deal happening over the next few years.”

We expected this back in 2012 and have been following closely. We now have a three prong attack on melanoma:

1. Pathway
2. Immunological
3. Viral

One suspects that we shall see all three being used in some form of cocktail. Nature continues:

Administering T-VEC in combination with cancer immunotherapy could prove particularly effective, notes Stephen Hodi, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. In June 2014, a small clinical trial by Amgen suggested that this combination may boost effectiveness over that of the immunotherapies alone. And researchers continue to look for ways to improve T-VEC. In particular, they would like to be able to deliver the therapy systemically, so that the virus could target tumours in organs that are difficult to reach with an injection. This would require a technique to prevent the body from mounting an immune response to the virus prematurely, which would disable it before it could reach and kill tumour cells, says Howard Kaufman, a cancer researcher at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.

The progress continues now that we understand some of the cause.