Melanoma – A New Weapon

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Melanoma weapon: Modified herpes virus
Researchers have high hopes for new form of treatment
Laura Ungar USA TODAY

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Some excerpts:

Known for cold sores and misery, herpes is now being used as a weapon against melanoma — the latest example of turning one bane of humanity against another by using viruses to target cancer.

In a study involving 436 late-stage melanoma patients at 64 centers around the globe, patients were injected with a genetically modified version of the herpes simplex virus known as TVEC. Sixteen percent saw a significant decrease in tumor sizes within the first year, and the improvement lasted for at least six months. Only 2% of patients who didn’t get T-VEC experienced such improvement.

And researchers expect the treatment to yield even better results when combined with another type of immunotherapy, which uses the body’s own immune system to fight cancer.

“It appears for many patients that (T-VEC) gives long-term remission and in some cases, cure,” says inventor Robert Coffin, a coauthor on the study, which appears in the current issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.