Pexa-Vec, a genetically engineered virus was developed to target cancer cells and destroy them. A recent US study shows its positive effects on thirty patients with liver cancer.
It is a new hope for patients with cancer: a virus developed by the American company Jennerex would extend the life of patients with end-stage liver cancer. This is what reveals the study recently published in the British journal Nature Medicine, which describes the clinical trial for four weeks in thirty patients. The life of these has been extended by several months.
After handling the HIV virus, Pexa-Vec virus (or JX-594) represents a breakthrough in research for the fight against cancer. One of the authors of the study, David Kirn, told AFP: “This is the first time in the history of medicine as we could show that a genetically engineered virus can improve survival of cancer patients. »
Of the thirty patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, a primary liver cancer), sixteen received high doses of the virus, while fourteen were administered lower doses of Pexa-Vec. The researchers found that the former have survived up to 14.1 months on average, while the latter survived 6.7 months.
These results demonstrate that “Pexa-Vec treatment at both doses resulted in tumor size reduction,” said Jennerex in a statement. In addition to destroying tumors, manipulated virus would strengthen the patient’s immune system, which would slow further progression of the disease.
The Pexa-Vec could cure other cancers
However, patients suffered some side effects “of short duration, transient and manageable,” similar to the symptoms of the flu, the scientists said. One patient in particular suffered severe nausea and vomiting. The Pexa-Vec was developed from the vaccinia virus, initially used as a vaccine against smallpox. The virus is administered either intravenously or directly into the tumor.
Moreover, besides liver cancer, Pexa-Vec may be effective against other cancers, as evidenced by the first results of tests on 200 people. But always according to Jennerex, a new study to be conducted on 120 people to confirm this new treatment.
The French company Transgene Mérieux Group, has signed a partnership agreement with Jennerex in 2013 on the development and marketing, particularly in the European territory of Pexa-Vec.