First officially approved viral treatment of cancer

Herpes Simplex Virus Type (HSV) (Image from http://www.bact.wisc.edu/themicrobialworld/hsv1struc.jpg)
Herpes Simplex Virus Type (HSV) (Image from http://www.bact.wisc.edu/themicrobialworld/hsv1struc.jpg)

Main Point:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have recently approved a viral treatment to kill cancer.

Published in:

FDA and Amgen

Study Further:

Here comes the news of another beneficial virus. Recently, FDA has approved a $65,000 course of treatment for melanoma, a skin cancer. This treatment consists of the use of a bioengineered virus, and can help in extending the lives of melanoma patients. It will be a completely new form of therapeutic strategy after chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation.

“Melanoma is a serious disease that can advance and spread to other parts of the body, where it becomes difficult to treat,” said Karen Midthun, who is the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research. “This approval provides patients and health care providers with a novel treatment for melanoma.”

This new drug, Imlygic (talimogene laherparepvec), is made by Amgen, which is a biopharmaceutical company. Actually, Imlygic is an alive and infectious herpes virus that can attack cancer cells. It is directly injected into the melanoma lesions, where it starts replicating inside the cancerous cells and causes them to rupture and die.

“As an oncolytic viral therapy, IMLYGIC has a unique approach, and provides another option for treating eligible patients with unresectable disease that has recurred after initial surgery.” said Howard L. Kaufman, who is the associate director for Clinical Science at the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and president of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer.

During the treatment course with Imlygic, second dose is administered after three weeks of initial injection. Then additional doses are administered after every two weeks for a minimum of six months.

Most commonly encountered side effects include fatigue, nausea, fever, chills, and pain at the injection site.

Sources:

FDA approves first-of-its-kind product for the treatment of melanoma – http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm469571.htm

FDA Approves IMLYGIC™ (Talimogene Laherparepvec) As First Oncolytic Viral Therapy In The US – https://www.amgen.com/media/news-releases/2015/10/fda-approves-imlygic-talimogene-laherparepvec-as-first-oncolytic-viral-therapy-in-the-us/

Usman Zafar Paracha

Usman Zafar Paracha is Assistant Professor, Pharmaceutics, in Hajvery University, Lahore, Pakistan.