Scientists at The
Clatterbridge Cancer Centre use modified cold sore virus in cancer research
PATIENTS at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre NHS
Foundation Trust are benefitting from ground breaking research that has modified
the cold sore virus to treat skin cancer.
The Hospital, in Merseyside, is 1 of the top recruiters for an international
trial to use the genetically modified version of herpes on melanoma patients.
The therapy could lengthen the life expectancy of some sufferers.
Called T-VEC, it is injected directly into the tumours and releases substances
to help fight cancer. Crucially it is not harmful to normal cells.
T-VEC has been granted interim funding from the Cancer Drugs Fund under strict
guidelines about who will and won't be able to receive the treatment.
Significantly, it is only to treat melanoma that has not spread to bone, brain,
lung or other internal organs. It must also be shown that other drugs are not
suitable for that particular patient.
The researchers at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, in
Wirral, are hoping to learn more about exactly the type of patients who will
benefit most from the drug. Dr Joseph Sacco, Consultant in Medical
Oncology at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, and local investigator for the
trial, said:- "This stage of the trial has been about understanding more
about how treatment works in patients, both locally in injected lesions, and
through the stimulation of the immune system. Ultimately we hope that the
research will help us identify which patients are most likely to benefit, thus
helping us choose which patients to offer T-VEC to, minimising side effects
while maximising treatment. We want to understand better exactly where to use
it. T-VEC is a good new option for people with melanoma as it has low toxicity.
It is exciting to see it changing outcomes, heralding a new class of drugs
becoming available to use as a single agent, or with other treatments."
The findings from The
Cancer Centre will now be examined, along with
those from a number of centres around the world.
The results will allow consultants to decide how and when to
treat patients with T-VEC. It is expected the treatment will become available to
suitable patients under the strict guidelines in 2017.