The cold sore virus, known as OncoVEX, was modified to multiply inside cancer cells but not in healthy ones. It would then burst and kill tumor cells, as well as releasing a human protein that would help stimulate patients’ immune systems. The virus was injected into cancer-affected lymph nodes of the patients, in up to 4 doses. Tumor shrinkage could be seen on scans for 14 patients, and more than three quarters of the participants showed no trace of residual cancer in their lymph nodes during subsequent surgery to remove them. More than 2 years later, more than three quarters of the patients involved in the study had not succumbed to the disease.
ICR’s principle investigator Dr. Kevin Harrington said, “Around 35% to 55% of patients given the standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment typically relapse within 2 years, so these results compare very favorably…this was a small study so the results should be interpreted with caution; however the very high rates of tumor response have led to the decision to take this drug into a large scale phase 3 trial.” The treatment’s side effects were mild to moderate, and most were thought to be the cause of the chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
(Source: British Dental Health Foundation, August 4, 2010)