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Biotech Medicine Science

FDA Approves Drug That Uses Herpes Virus To Fight Cancer (nature.com) 76

An anonymous reader writes: U.S. regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind drug that uses the herpes virus to infiltrate and destroy melanoma. Nature reports: "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.' Many viruses preferentially infect cancer cells. Malignancy can suppress normal antiviral responses, and sometimes the mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection. Viral infection can thus ravage a tumour while leaving abutting healthy cells untouched, says Brad Thompson, president of the pharmaceutical-development firm Oncolytics Biotech in Calgary, Canada."
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FDA Approves Drug That Uses Herpes Virus To Fight Cancer

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  • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @10:26PM (#50822165) Journal
    Nice. How novel is that? As ugly as a cold sore is, how preferential it might be to eminent death...
    • Nice. How novel is that? As ugly as a cold sore is, how preferential it might be to eminent death...

      I dunno... it might be a close call if I could get an eminent death out of it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Nice. How novel is that? As ugly as a cold sore is, how preferential it might be to eminent death...

      The virus is modified to preferrentially attack only melanoma cells and not healthy cells so there minimal chance of getting a cold sore.

      • Unless of course the melanoma was on your lip...

    • The theory is pretty old though, and well-known enough that there was a House episode on it (House VS God from Season 2).

      There have been recordings of cancer remissions and tumors being shrunken by viruses since the 19th century, and we've known for a long time that the herpes virus is particularly effective at this.

      What we didn't have before was a way to boost that efficacy to the level where it was a reliable treatment. Previous cases were almost entirely down to observed events in accidental infections.

    • Nice. How novel is that? As ugly as a cold sore is, how preferential it might be to eminent death...

      Depends - are we talking about a teenager?

  • by anmre ( 2956771 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @10:28PM (#50822181)

    mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection

    Interesting. Like cave dwelling creatures who've "lost" (by process of evolution) their sense of sight in order to enhance other senses. It's all good until some other creature invents a flashlight.

    • Re:Caves (Score:4, Informative)

      by Chikungunya ( 2998457 ) on Wednesday October 28, 2015 @11:13PM (#50822391)

      Maybe not exactly like your example but more like creatures that lost their ability to run fast by overeating themselves to obesity, let loose a few bears and the fit ones will have much better chances of surviving.

      Cancer cells are in general very susceptible to infection, many times you can grow viruses in cell cultures coming from organisms that are not susceptible to that virus because the cultures are cancer cells. The problem is to make the virus lethal enough to kill efficiently the cancer but tame enough so the normal cells and organs are not affected too much. Similar to live vaccines but with a much more difficult balance to keep.

  • Old news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by just___giver ( 708926 ) on Thursday October 29, 2015 @12:23AM (#50822701)
    I first posted this 13 years ago. Sad how long it takes http://m.slashdot.org/story/40... [slashdot.org]
  • So like Legend but bad (distasteful sores)...

  • sweet, I'll never get cancer!

  • "FDA Approves Drug That Uses Herpes Virus To Fight Cancer"

    I have to admit, I feel somewhat conflicted about this.

    And what about people who already have herpes, can they get a discount?

    Disclaimer: I lived through the 1970's and didn't get herpes, a fact that I'm rather proud of considering all of the sleazy girls I banged during that decade. Luck of the draw, I guess.

  • Many viruses preferentially infect cancer cells. Malignancy can suppress normal antiviral responses, and sometimes the mutations that drive tumour growth also make cells more susceptible to infection.

    I suspect the tumors will just add the viruses uniqueness to its own.

  • What a great movie. The late great Robert Urich. https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
  • This is so cool! I work just down the hall from Dr. Kaufman at CINJ. His lab is one of the labs developing these herpes virus cancer therapies. My lab uses vaccinia, the smallpox vaccine virus, doing similar research (I'm also working on a melanoma model). We use GM-CSF just like this one, but also add in some tumor-specific antigens to increase targeting to the tumors. It's quite exciting stuff, and we even had a promising clinical trial against pancreatic cancer recently.
  • It would be interesting if the discount plan for administering this cure was to sleep with your doctor. (Doesn't hurt that my doctor is the opposite gender as I, and definitely not unattractive)

    Just think, they could rename brothels to be "treatment centers".

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