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Private medical cover could soon provide herpes-based treatment for cancer

Published on 03/08/2010
Those with private medical cover may soon find a new treatment option for cancer is open to them.

Scientists say they have found a way to genetically modify the herpes cold sore virus to attack cancer cells.

In a trial run by The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, researchers injected the virus into the lymph nodes of 17 patients with head and neck cancer.

It had been re-engineered to multiply within cancer cells but not healthy ones, thus bursting and killing the cells of the tumour.

Head and neck tumour shrinkage could be seen on scans for 82.3 per cent of the patients (who were also given radiotherapy and chemotherapy) while 93 per cent had no trace of residual cancer in their lymph nodes during subsequent surgery to remove them.

After an average follow-up time of 29 months, 82.4 per cent of patients had not suffered a relapse.

"Around 35 to 55 per cent of patients given the standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment typically relapse within two years, so these results compare very favourably," said principal investigator Dr Kevin Harrington.

Head and neck cancers can originate in a wide range of areas, including the eyes, naval cavity and mouth.

Major risks factors associated with this group of cancers are smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.
© ActiveQuote Ltd. 2010

Categories:  Medical
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