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Scientists modified the vaccinia virus, which is more famous for being used to develop a smallpox vaccine.
Data just published in the journal Nature suggest that an engineered oncolytic virus called JX-594 selectively targeted and destroyed cancer cells in patients without significantly affecting healthy tissue.
The article in Nature (by Brietbach et al.) — and the media release — describe how JX-594 works in cancer tissues after intravenous infusion. Apparently normal tissues were not affected clinically.
The initial group of 23 patients treated with JX-594 were all patients with advanced, treatment-refractory, solid tumors.
Six of the eight patients given the two highest doses of JX-594 saw their tumors stabilize or shrink. Seven of those eight patients showed evidence of viral replication in their tumors, but not in normal tissues.
Cancer Research UK's Prof Nick Lemoine, also director of Barts Cancer Institute, said: "Viruses that multiply in just tumour cells - avoiding healthy cells - are showing real promise as a new biological approach to target hard-to-treat cancers.
"This new study is important because it shows that a virus previously used safely to vaccinate against smallpox in millions of people can now be modified to reach cancers through the bloodstream - even after cancer has spread widely through the patient's body.
"It is particularly encouraging that responses were seen even in tumours like mesothelioma, a cancer which can be particularly hard to treat."
Aug 31 (Reuters) - Researchers have shown for the first time that a single intravenous infusion of a genetically engineered virus can home in on cancer, killing tumor cells in patients without harming healthy tissue. Scientists have been intrigued for decades with the idea of using viruses to alert the immune system to seek and destroy cancerous cells. That interest has taken off in recent years as advances in genetic engineering allow them to customize viruses that target tumors. The field received a boost in January when biotech giant Amgen Inc (AMGN.O) agreed to pay up to $1 billion for BioVex, the developer of experimental cancer-fighting virus OncoVex. But the only "oncolytic virus" so far approved by a regulatory agency is for treatment of head and neck cancer in China. In a study published in the journal Nature on Wednesday, scientists at institutions including the University of Ottawa and privately held biotech company Jennerex Inc said a small, early-stage trial of experimental viral therapy JX-954 found that it consistently infected tumors with only minimal and temporary side effects.
Also not among the new drugs approved was A5G27 In 2004 Hynda Kleinman and her colleagues at the National Institutes of Health discovered that this molecule, called a peptide, blocks the metastasis of melanoma to the lungs and other organs, at least in lab animals. The peptide also blocks angiogenesis, the creation of blood vessels that sustain metastatic tumors, they reported six years ago in the journal Cancer Research. Unfortunately, A5G27 has not been developed beyond that discovery. Kleinman was working at NIH’s dental-research institute, and, she says, “there was not a lot of support for work in cancer there at the time. They weren’t interested.” She did not have the expertise to develop the peptide herself. “I continued doing cancer research on it, but I couldn’t take it to the next level because I’m not a cancer specialist,” she says. “I was trained as a chemist.” www.thedailybeast.com...
There are suggestions that initial development may be focused forms of solid tumor, such as melanoma and liver cancer.
ennerex, Inc. announced interim data from its Phase 2 study of JX-594 followed by sorafenib (Nexavar; Bayer and Onyx) for the treatment of patients with advanced liver cancer. The trial has enrolled a total of 15 patients as of Sep 6, 2011, including a subgroup of 10 who have failed previous treatment with sorafenib. All patients were treated with a combination of intravenous and intratumoral injections of JX-594 prior to standard sorafenib therapy. Tumor responses by Choi criteria (a measure of tumor necrosis) in both injected and non-injected tumors were observed in eight of 11 evaluable patients. Tumor responses were maintained for up to 15 months post JX-594 treatment initiation. Significant tumor necrosis following JX-594 and sorafenib was observed in six of seven evaluable sorafenib resistant patients (86%). The sequential treatment regimen was well tolerated, and sorafenib toxicities were consistent with the documented historical profile.
JX-594 is an oncolytic virus that is designed to selectively target and destroy cancer cells. JX-594 is designed to attack cancer through three mechanisms of action: the lysis of cancer cells through viral replication; the reduction of the blood supply to tumors through vascular targeting and destruction; and the stimulation of the body's immune response against cancer cells.Phase 2 Study of JX-594 for Liver Cancer