In 2015, the FDA approved the first oncolytic virus therapy drug to be used in the treatment of cancer. T-VEC, a neutralized and modified herpes virus, is used in the treatment of stage 3-4 melanoma.
In this article, you can learn how virotherapy works, how effective it is in treating skin cancer, learn about the side effects, and which clinics provide the treatment.
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What is virotherapy?
Oncolytic virus therapy is the use of viruses to destroy malignant tumours. Professor Hiroshi Fukuhara of the University of Tokyo believes it is the most promising discovery in modern medicine since immunotherapy.
The drug consists of a virus modified by gene therapy. Because of changes in its structure, it is no longer able to cause the disease. Instead, the virus infects cancer cells and causes them to die.
The virus can destroy cancer in two different ways:
The “friendly” virus delivers therapeutic molecules to the tumour, which activate the patient’s immune system and allows the body to fight the disease on its own;
Viruses are incorporated into the DNA of the tumour and cause it to self-destruct.
Cancer cells are often less protected against viral infections compared to healthy cells. This makes them more vulnerable to the treatment.
Melanoma is one of the top 5 cancers with the highest survival rates in overseas clinics. If you are interested in the highest quality cancer treatment available today, leave your application by clicking on the button below.
Benefits of oncolytic virus therapy
The advantage of viral therapy is that thanks to the unique way viruses work, doctors can destroy tumours that are resistant to conventional treatments – surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy.
|Virus therapy||Traditional cancer treatment|
|Ability to distinguish malignant cells from healthy ones||Yes||Target therapy and immunotherapy – yes; chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery – no.|
|Ability to override the cancerous cell’s “microclimate”||Yes||Target therapy and immunotherapy – yes; chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery – no.|
|Toxicity||Minimal||Depending on the protocol and dosage|
How does T-VEC work?
In 2015, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the first viral immunotherapy for cancer treatment, T-VEC. The drug is prescribed for melanoma at stages 3-4.
This drug uses the herpes virus, which ignores healthy cells, and causes infected cancer cells to produce the immune-stimulating protein GM-CSF. This activates the patient’s immune system. Immune cells arrive at the site of the disease and can destroy cancer just as they would a normal infection.
T-VEC is injected directly into the tumour. Usually, a course of viral therapy is combined with other drugs – such as immunotherapy or chemotherapy – to achieve the maximum therapeutic effect. On average, the course is about 6 months long, with injections repeated every three weeks.
Indications and contraindications for the use of T-VEC
T-VEC is used in the treatment of adults with inoperable melanoma with regional or distant metastases – stage IIIB, IIIC and IVM1a.
Contraindications include bone disease, brain disease, and lung disease.
Effectiveness of viral therapy in the treatment of skin cancer
When combined with immunotherapy, T-VEC has a therapeutic effect in 39-62% of patients.
The one-year survival rate with viral therapy increases from 58% to 93%.
Side effects of T-VEC
Compared to traditional cancer treatment methods, T-VEC causes far fewer complications. Dr Kaufman, who was involved in the efficacy and safety studies of the drug, commented, “We were surprised at how well patients tolerated the viral therapy. The drug has almost no effect on their quality of life.”
Most often, symptoms resembling a cold occur fatigue, fever, chills, and pain at the injection site.
In addition to viral therapy, foreign clinics can offer a personalized skin cancer treatment plan according to modern protocols. This will increase the effectiveness of treatment and reduce the number of side effects. To make an appointment at an overseas clinic, order a call from our coordinator by clicking on the button below.
How will oncolytic virus therapy develop further?
Doctors are developing several virotherapy drugs that will be used to treat other cancers in the future:
Which clinics provide oncolytic virus therapy?
T-VEC must be stored between -90°C and -70°C, so this treatment cannot be done at home.
Cost of oncolytic virus therapy abroad
|Virus therapy||from €3,690 per injection|
MediGlobus will help you get treatment with advanced therapies before they become available at clinics at home. To sign up for virotherapy, leave your request on our website by clicking on the button below
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- 2. Cancer Science
- 3. National Cancer Institute
- 4. Journal of Clinical Oncology
- 5. Cell
- 6. Journal of Hematology and Oncology
- 7. OncoTargets and Therapy
- 8. Journal for Immunotherapy of Cancer