Researchers say that the new drug can not only destroy cancer cells, but also prevent the emergence of new ones.
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As part of a clinical trial, the world’s first patient was injected with an experimental cancer-killing virus. If the tests are completed successfully, medicine will receive a new tool to fight cancer. It is reported by Science Alert.
The test drug CF33-hNIS (or Vaxinia) is an oncolytic virus – a genetically modified virus. It selectively infects and destroys cancer cells while maintaining human health.
CF33-hNIS is a modified variola virus that enters cells and replicates itself. The infected cell releases thousands of new viral particles, which in turn stimulate the immune system to attack nearby cancer cells.
Animal studies have shown that the drug uses the human immune system to find and destroy cancer cells. But human trials weren’t done until recently.
The developers of the drug, City of Hope Research Center in Los Angeles, and Australian biotechnology company Imugene have officially announced the start of the first human clinical trial.
“Previous research shows that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the human immune system to find and destroy cancer, as well as make the body more receptive to other types of immunotherapy,” says City of Hope Research Center oncologist Daneng Lee, who is also the lead investigator on the project.
The success of the drug will primarily depend on data on how safe CF33-hNIS is in humans, so the first phase of trials will focus on this issue.
Up to 100 patients with metastases or advanced large tumors can participate in the first phase of the trial. Provided that participants have previously received at least two courses of standard treatment.
Researchers will monitor the occurrence of side effects from the drug, recording their frequency and severity. The scientists are also going to test the tolerability of the drug with increasing doses before proceeding to test the effectiveness of the treatment.
In the second phase of the trial, the scientists will begin to analyze the size of the treated tumors and how much it has changed over the course of treatment. The drug trials are expected to take about two years.
“Our oncolytic virus trains the immune system to target specific cancer cells. This means that if a similar cancer cell reappears in the future, the immune system will be ready to destroy it,” says oncologist surgeon Suzanne Warner, who led the study of the drug in mice.