The modified herpes virus has shown promise in killing cancer cells in early-stage clinical trials, as a London patient claimed the treatment completely cured the disease.
Scientists say the injection, which contains a weakened form of the herpes simplex virus, could provide a lifeline to people with advanced cancer.
Three of the nine patients treated with the injection, known as RP2, saw their tumors shrink.
Seven of 30 who received both RP2 and the immunotherapy nivomulab also benefited from treatment. Of the seven people who saw benefits, six remained progression-free at 14 months.
Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, a builder from West London, was among the patients who took part in an ongoing phase one safety trial. He was diagnosed with a type of salivary gland cancer in May 2017.
After several surgeries, he was told there were no treatment options before being given the opportunity to join the trial at The Royal Marsden in 2020.
He said: “I was told there was no choice left for me and that I was facing the end of life, it was devastating, so being given the chance to appear at the trial at Royal Marsden was unbelievable, it was my last lifeline. .
“I had injections every two weeks for five weeks which completely eradicated my cancer. I have been cancer free for two years now, it is a true miracle, there are no other words to describe it.
“I’ve been able to work as a builder again and spend time with my family, there’s nothing I can’t do.”
The genetically engineered virus is injected directly into the tumor and causes cancer cells to multiply to burst from within. It also inhibits a protein called CTLA-4, thereby increasing the immune system’s ability to kill cancer cells.
All patients included in the trial had very advanced cancer that failed to respond to the standard of care options, or were not eligible.
Study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Treatment at The Institute of Cancer Research, London and Consultant Oncologist at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, said the treatment could deliver a “one-two punch” against cancers, destroying them from within. Can do. and enables the immune system to fight them.
“Our preliminary trial findings suggest that a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus could potentially become a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancer – including those that have not responded to other forms of immunotherapy.
“I look forward to seeing if we continue to see benefits as we treat an increased number of patients.”