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A genetically-engineered herpes virus is the new hope to beat cancer after scientists found tumours in terminally ill patients were eradicated or shrunk using the groundbreaking new therapy. 

An early trial at the Institute for Cancer Research (ICR) in London revealed that a modified version of the herpes simplex virus showed signs of effectiveness in a quarter of patients with end-of-life cancer.

 

The infection - which also causes mouth and sexually transmitted sores - works on cancer by producing molecules to spark an immune system response and infecting and destroying the cancer. 

It was tested on 39 patients with cancers including people suffering from skin, oesophageal and head and neck tumours. 

A patient from West London has hailed it as a 'true miracle' after he was able to go back to work as a builder. 

A genetically-engineered herpes virus is the new hope to beat cancer after scientists found tumours in terminally ill patients were eradicated using the new therapy. Pictured: Stock image

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Krzysztof Wojkowski, 39, was diagnosed with Mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a type of salivary gland cancer, in May 2017 and after multiple surgeries, he was told that there were no treatment options left.

'I had injections every two weeks for five weeks which completely eradicated my cancer,' he said.  'I've been cancer free for two years now, it's a true miracle, there is no other word to describe it.

' I've been able to work as a builder again and spend time with my family, there's nothing I can't do.'

Mr Wojkowski added: 'I was told there were no options left for me and I was receiving end of life care, it was devastating, so it was incredible to be given the chance to join the trial at The Royal Marsden, it was my final lifeline.'

It was tested on 39 patients with cancers including skin, oesophageal and head and neck cancer including a patient from West London who hailed it as a 'true miracle' after he was able to go back to work as a builder (stock image of woman supporting patient)

The research team are hoping to move to bigger trials after they presented the study at the European Society for Medical Oncology Congress (ESMO). 

Study leader Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: 'Our study shows that a genetically engineered, cancer-killing virus can deliver a one-two punch against tumours – directly destroying cancer cells from within while also calling in the immune system against them.

Oral herpes can be spread by kissing or toothbrushes

Herpes 1, or oral herpes, is the more common viral strain, affecting about two-thirds of all people under 50.

Oral herpes gets its name because, of course, it primarily causes sores or blisters around the lips.

However, in the past couple of decades, it has started to become more common for HSV 1 sores to appear in the genital or anal areas.

HSV 2, or genital herpes primarily effect these areas, and are less common, affecting only about 16 percent of the population.

During outbreaks of either, the viruses are highly transmissable.

HSV 1 can be spread through kissing or sharing objects like utensils or toothbrushes.

By contrast, genital herpes can typically only be spread through sexual contact.

Once the HSV 2 virus is in someone's body it will be there for many years of for their entire life, and there is no cure.

But antiviral drugs can keep outbreaks minimal and may reduce risk of transmission.

Or at least they could, before the HSV 2 and HSV 1 started having 'sex'.

Source: NHS/ Healthline

The Consultant Oncologist  at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, added: 'It is rare to see such good response rates in early-stage clinical trials, as their primary aim is to test treatment safety and they involve patients with very advanced cancers for whom current treatments have stopped working.

'Our initial trial findings suggest that a genetically engineered form of the herpes virus could potentially become a new treatment option for some patients with advanced cancers – including those who haven't responded to other forms of immunotherapy. I am keen to see if we continue to see benefits as we treat increased numbers of patients.'

The genetically engineered RP2 virus, which is injected directly into the tumours, is designed to have a dual action against tumours.

It multiplies inside cancer cells to burst them from within, and it also blocks a protein known as CTLA-4 – releasing the brakes on the immune system and increasing its ability to kill cancer cells. 

Three out of nine patients treated with herpes benefitted with one salivary gland cancer patient seeing his tumour disappear completely and remain free of cancer 15 months after starting treatment. 

Seven out of 30 patients who received both RP2 and the immunotherapy nivolumab also benefitted from treatment. 

In the group, four out of nine patients with melanoma skin cancer, two out of eight patients with the eye cancer uveal melanoma, and one out of three patients with head and neck cancer saw their cancer’s growth halt or shrink.

Of the seven patients receiving the combination who saw a benefit, six remained progression-free at 14 months.

Professor Kristian Helin, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: 'Viruses are one of humanity's oldest enemies, as we have all seen over the pandemic. But our new research suggests we can exploit some of the features that make them challenging adversaries to infect and kill cancer cells. 

'It's a small study but the initial findings are promising. I very much hope that as this research expands we see patients continue to benefit.'

News Source: dailymail.co.uk

Tags: topics index miracle’ after he after he was able miracle’ after after he i’ve been the immune system be spread through at the institute at the institute it was tested hailed it there were no can be spread the herpes options left trial from within there is no patients continue more common end of life

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Features | Hundreds take part in San Francisco Bay charity swim to support cancer research

At the sound of a whirring bullhorn siren Saturday morning, hundreds of swimmers plunged into the chilly San Francisco Bay as part of the 17th annual local Swim Across America event to raise money for cancer research.

Mitali and Anaya Khanzode joined the San Francisco fundraiser in honor of their swim coach, who’s now battling cancer. The sisters from Sunnyvale, ages 20 and 17, are veteran bay swimmers and have each broken world records in open water competitions — including Anaya’s 2013 record of swimming from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore in 50 minutes at age 8.

“Since we’ve been swimming open water for 10-plus years and our coach has become part of our family, it means a lot to support a cause that will help him,” said Mitali.

As “swim angels” at the event, the pair assisted less experienced swimmers along the 1.5-mile route from the Marina Green to Aquatic Park.

“We’re really looking forward to meeting new people,” Anaya said as she walked toward the starting point on the beach beyond the seawall.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: Anaya Khanzode, of Sunnyvale, looks at her goggles before swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

Founded in 1987, the nonprofit Swim Across America holds 21 events across the country. It’s raised around $100 million for life-saving immunotherapy treatments and more than 60 scientific grants, including for research at Children’s John Hopkins Medicine Baltimore, Rush University Medical Center Chicago, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center New York.

The San Francisco event has since launching in 2006 raised at least $5.5 million for cancer research at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals. This year, local swimmers and volunteers raised over $500,000.

“Everyone swims for a different reason: Some people are swimming in honor of somebody who’s beat cancer, some people swim in memory of someone who’s passed away from cancer, and some people swim for several people,” said Jenna Stevenson, national safety liaison with Swim Across America.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 24: Michelle Goodwin, of San Francisco, stretches before swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group) 

In 2019, over 1.7 million cancer cases were diagnosed in the U.S. and nearly 600,000 died of cancer, according to the latest available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That means for every 100,000 people, 439 new cancer cases were reported and 146 people died that year.

Thomas Wu, a cancer researcher at Bay Area biotech firm Genentech, entered Saturday’s swim with a team of co-workers. It was the first time Wu, a regular swimmer from San Francisco, signed up for a Swim Across America event, and he said he raised $1,000.

“I already spend my career in pursuit of treating cancer, and I wanted to continue that by raising some money and participating in this event.”

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Christina Kossa, of Berkeley, joined the swim as part of two-person team called the Albany Adorables. She was there to support a fellow swimmer who survived breast cancer, as well as in memory of a friend who died of a brain tumor in 2016.

Kossa said she remembered staying with her friend until the night she died, and how difficult it was for the family to recover from their loss.

“I’m really hoping that by giving to research, that more outcomes will be like my friend who survived breast cancer,” she said.

Click here if you are having a problem viewing the photos on a mobile device

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Amanda Marinoff,left, of San Francisco, and Kris Berglund, right, of Oakland, hug after swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Aquatic Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: John de Groot, of San Francisco, swims during the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Aquatic Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Michelle Goodwin, center, of San Francisco, prepares to swim in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Susan Helmrich , of Berkeley and former co-director of Swim Across America, walks across the finish line after swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Aquatic Park in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. Helmrich is a three time cancer survivor. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Simon Lins, of Oakland, adjusts his swim cap before swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: Simon Lins, of Oakland, shakes water out of his hair before swimming in the Swim Across America San Francisco open at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

  • SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 24: A swimmer has writing on her shoulders in dedication to people who experienced cancer during the Swim Across America San Francisco at Little Marina Green in San Francisco, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022. (Shae Hammond/Bay Area News Group)

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