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NEW PARADIGM FOR FIGHTING CANCER – virotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitor combined treatment

New cancer treatments and medicines are becoming available in the world every year. Innovative cancer treatment methods are being introduced in practice to combat oncological disease. Scientists are struggling to keep pace with the spread of tumours, and doctors insist on the importance of early diagnosis. But what are the hot news in cancer research today? The latest trend seen at cancer conferences puts forward a new paradigm for fighting cancer – oncolytic virotherapy and immune checkpoint inhibitor combination treatment. This method suggests that any checkpoint immunotherapy would benefit from the combination with oncolytic virotherapy (OV) to achieve better result.



So what is the story about?

Last year at the 9th World Congress of melanoma in Brisbane, Australia, a paper entitled “Oncolytic Virotherapy Promotes Intratumoral T Cell Infiltration and Improves Anti-PD Immunotherapy” was presented. The authors of the publication are prominent oncology opinion leaders including the first author of the ESMO guidelines, Dr. Reinhard Dummer, and the author of interferon studies Dr. John M. Kirkwood, as well as 15 other leading scientists who conclude that using combination treatment with virotherapy increases the effectiveness of the anti-PD1 medicine for as much as 62%. 1


In April, 2018, the 11th International Congress of Oncolytic Virotherapy took place in Oxford, UK where many scientists demonstrated the results of the research by analysing the ability of viruses to improve the effectiveness of immunotherapy. During the congress, it was concluded:

  • More than half of the patients do not respond to immune checkpoint inhibition;

  • Many cancers without pre-existing immune cell infiltrates do not respond to immune checkpoint blockade;

  • The combination of virotherapy and immune checkpoint blockade generates synergistic anti-tumour effect.

At the end of April flagship of science - Nature Reviews Cancer (2018) published "Oncolytic viruses as engineering platforms for combination immunotherapy". 2




Moreover, in 2018 two major transactions took place in the industry that provided even more support to the hypothesis:

February 2018 MSD (MERCK) aquires Viralytics – transaction value $394 Million. 3

April 2018 Johnson & Johnson’s pharma unit Janssen acquires BeneVir – transaction value up to $900 Million. 4




Conclusion

As it is seen from the studies, Oncolytic virotherapy (OV) is very universal and innovative treatment that can be used in early cancer stages and in last stages as monotherapy, and also in combination with immunotherapies to improve therapy efficacy for patients with various types of cancer. While a large number of viral studies are only at an early stage, the ECHO-7 virus is an already approved, clinically proven, safe, and effective medication that can be safely used via on-name basis in combination with both advanced immunotherapy and other therapies.


[1]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28886381

[2]https://www.nature.com/articles/s41568-018-0009-4?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureRevCancer

[3]http://investors.merck.com/news/press-release-details/2018/Merck-and-Viralytics-Announce-Acquisition-Agreement-Expanding-Mercks-Leading-Immuno-Oncology-Pipeline/default.aspx

[4]https://www.biopharmadive.com/news/jj-snaps-up-oncolytic-virus-company-benevir/522731/




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