Longer lifespan for cancer caused by viruses

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Biotherapy: A virus caused a longer lifespan in cancer patients

According to scientific research, genetically modified viruses can significantly increase the life expectancy of patients suffering from liver cancer. The subjects, who otherwise only have a short lifespan after diagnosis, could live an average of 14.1 months, according to the researchers.

Scientists report in the journal "Nature Medicine" of a positive result of a research work. According to a study, a study found an extended lifespan for liver cancer patients. A total of 16 subjects took part in the study. A modified virus was given in high doses for four weeks. "After that, the patients lived an average of 14.1 months," the scientists write in their report. To ensure the result, 14 other life cancer patients were given low doses of Pexa-Vec or JX-594. Here the further average lifespan was only 6.7 months.

Killed tumors and stopped further onset
"For the first time in medical history, we have shown that a genetically modified virus can increase the life expectancy of cancer patients," says study author David Kirn from the biotherapy company "Jennerex" in California. In his view, there would now be hope for effective treatment options if cancer tumors are already very advanced. The treatment could "kill tumors and also prevent the emergence of new ones".

Despite all the advances in medicine, science has been unable to find an effective remedy for most cancers in the past 30 years. Despite biological agents and chemotherapy, most cancer tumors are considered incurable if metastases already develop. "For this reason, we need effective immunotherapy," says Kirn.

The agent Pexa-Vec is specially programmed and therefore multiplies in the cancer cells. Within this, the viruses destroy the negative cells. In addition, the immune system of the cancer patient is stimulated so that it acts against the cancer cells.

In both groups of subjects, the scientists were able to determine that the tumor size decreased and the supply of blood to the cancerous growth decreased. Accordingly, effects with "low and high doses, but with different results" could be achieved.

Viral agent was used as anti-throb protection
The viral active ingredient is obtained from the vaccinia virus, which was used, for example, for smallpox vaccination. According to the doctors, there were no severe side effects. At most, flu-like symptoms such as chills or body aches were observed for a day or two. One patient had nausea and vomiting.

However, it is not yet possible to speak of a certain result. Therefore, a second study with significantly more study participants follows. The first investigation of this kind is said to be done with another 120 people. (sb)

Image: Gerd Altmann / pixelio.de

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