Herpes virus helps treat cancer patients

August 3rd, 2010 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

London, Aug 2 (IANS) British researchers have successfully used a genetically engineered herpes virus to treat patients suffering from head and neck cancer.
The virus was found to be more effective at killing tumours in combination with radiotherapy and chemotherapy than the standard cancer treatments on their own.

The research team modified the common virus so that it would multiply inside cancer cells but not in healthy cells.

It then bursts, killing the tumour cells and, by expressing a human protein, it also helps stimulate a patient’s immune system. However, it doesn’t then infect the patient with herpes.

“The virus has been genetically modified so that it is no longer able to cause cold sores. The genes that normally allow the virus to hide in the body and pop out later - called latent infection - have been removed so the virus can no longer do that,” dailymail.co.uk quoted study leader Kevin Harrington as saying.

The virus was injected into 17 patients’ cancer-affected lymph nodes. The patients were also given radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Of these, 93 percent showed no trace of cancer after their tumour had been surgically removed at the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Only two of 13 patients given the virus treatment at a high dose relapsed more than two years later.

The study appears in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

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