Remember when you first learned in grade school that when you add two negative numbers it creates a positive one? But then your Mom told you that “two wrongs don’t make a right?”
For most adults that are not mathematicians, it is counter-intuitive for us to combine two negative items to create a positive one, but that is exactly the kind of creative thinking scientists are using to cure cancer.
We don’t think of viruses as a good thing, but on May 26 the Journal of Clinical Oncology published a study with the first widespread proof that viruses, when modified, can be used to treat cancer.
Using a technique called “virotherapy,” researchers successfully treated patients suffering from aggressive skin cancer with a modified herpes virus. The virus was converted into a therapeutic agent, allowing it to go on “seek and destroy” missions within the sick patients.
The agent works by multiplying inside of cancer cells, causing them to burst from within. By creating a molecule that stimulates the immune system, it’s able to hunt and destroy tumors.
The actual drug is called T-VEC and has already been sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medical Agency for approval. Regulators believe it may be available for consumers as early as next year.
Dr. Kevin Harrington, who led the trials for the Institute of Cancer Research London, stated: “It’s the first time a virotherapy has been shown to be successful in a phase 3 trial, this is a big promise for this treatment.”
Overall, over 16% of the patients given the treatment responded positively after more than six months, as opposed to only 2.1% in the control group. Roughly 10% of the patients treated went through a complete remission.
This breakthrough comes on the heels of a Duke University study that showed positive signs of using a genetically engineered polio virus to treat brain cancer. Though not as advanced as the T-VEC study, it just shows the progress the field is making in virotherapy.
I believe we will continue to see more non-traditional solutions for cancer treatment that involve both virotherapy techniques and genomic sequencing to steadily increase the cure rate — I suspect for other diseases as well.
As always, I will continue to monitor the market’s latest health and biotech technology trends via my social media collective intelligence tool and keep you updated on the latest.