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New Viro-Immunotherapy Trial is First in US

Oct 30, 2017 08:51AM ● By The Hood Magazine

Sanford Health is the first site in the United States to launch a clinical trial using a genetically-engineered VSV virus that aims to destroy therapy-resistant solid tumors.

The Phase I immunotherapy trial will focus on adults with metastatic solid tumors that have not responded to standard treatments. The treatment involves injecting a genetically altered oncolytic virus -- vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) -- directly into a tumor. The virus is engineered to grow in cancer cells, destroy these tumors, and then spread to other cancer sites. During this process, it recruits the immune system to the area with the goal of triggering an immune response.

The virus, commonly known as VSV, can infect cattle, but it rarely causes serious infections in humans. For the new treatment, it has been altered by adding two genes. The first is a human interferon beta gene, a natural antiviral protein, to protect healthy cells against infection.

The second gene makes the NIS protein found in the thyroid gland, which allows the researchers to track the virus as it spreads to tumor sites. Vyriad, a biopharmaceutical company in Rochester, Minnesota, developed the technology. “Oncolytic viruses are the next wave of promising cancer immunotherapy treatments,” says oncologist Steven Powell, MD, who collaborated with Vyriad on the development of the clinical trial.

Interventional radiologist Shannon Peck, MD, oversees the viral injection procedures. Enrollees in the trial are given a one-time injection and then are followed for 43 days to evaluate for safety and clinical benefit. After this 43-day period, chemotherapy, immunotherapy or targeted therapy can be restarted.