Intravenous Viral Therapy Makes Cancer Treatment History!


Phase I study in metastatic melanoma patients showed early evidence of antitumor activity.: © ChrisharveyPhase I study in metastatic melanoma patients showed early evidence of antitumor activity.: © Chrisharvey Canadian researchers have made cancer treatment history with the success of an intravenous infusion of a virus, JX-594.  The virus was injected into 23 patients with advanced and metastasized cancers who had not responded to traditional therapies.  Not only was this the first test of viral therapy on human cancer patients, but the first trial to introduce a targeted virus intravenously.

The study was conducted by researchers at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, headed by Dr. John Bell, who has been researching oncolytic viruses for more than 10 years, along with Dr. David Kim from San Francisco.  Together, they developed JX-594, which originated from another virus used in a live smallpox vaccine.  The researchers genetically altered JX-594 so that it would effectively target only cancer cells and multiply within them, thereby killing the cancer cells.

Researchers used five different dosages of the virus to inject  23 cancer subjects.  After 10 days, 87 percent of those who received the two highest dosages (7 persons) showed evidence of virus replication within their tumors, but no replication in healthy tissue.  The virus was generally accepted well by all subjects, with the most common side effect being flu-like symptoms for a day or so.

Intravenous injection of JX-594 was critical to the success of the virus as a treatment for metastasized cancer because it is the only method that allows multiple tumors to be reached.. 

"Oncolytic viruses are unique because they can attack tumors in multiple ways, they have very mild side effects compared to other treatments, and they can be easily customized for different kinds of cancer," said Dr. Dell.  "We're still in the early stages of testing these viruses in patients, but I believe that someday, viruses and other biological therapies could truly transform our approach for treating cancer."

Intravenous delivery of a multi-mechanistic cancer-targeted oncolytic poxvirus in humans is published in the online journal Nature, September 1, 2011. 


sources: Medical News Today,