Scientists are conducting pre-clinical experiments to explore the use of the Herpes virus, engineered to selectively replicate in cancer cells, to trigger an immune response against (breast) cancer cells.
“The tumor emits signals to down-regulate the T-cells. Our herpes virus can be engineered to awaken those cells and modulate the immune system so that it recognizes the tumor cells and destroys them.
Our herpes virus has been engineered to only replicate and destroy cancer cells, thus killing the tumor. Patients would not contract the herpes virus itself.”
A German company, MediGene, has a similar herpes virus, which is in Phase 3 clinical trials for liver cancer. The researchers believe, however that the herpes virus is an improved version.
“Our virus has been engineered to spread even better among cancer cells,” he said. “It causes the cancer cells to fuse together so that the virus can then destroy the cells more efficiently. The virus can be used as a vector to express other genes. We can insert multiple genes into it to enhance its tumor-killing capabilities.”