The first human patient has been injected with what researchers believe may be a way to fight cancerous tumors in the body. Until now the shot had only been tested on lab animals.
The drug, CF33-hNIS (aka Vaxinia), is an oncolytic virus, which means once in the body, it can selectively kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. Before this week, the drug had only been tested on animals in a lab, and there is no data on human specimens. However, a clinical trial of 100 participants is planned to test the efficacy of the experimental injection.
CF33-hNIS works by entering cells in the body and duplicating itself until the cell bursts and releases thousands of antigens into the body. Those antigens trigger the body’s immune system to begin attacking cancer cells. Previous testing on animals showed the drug to be effective and researchers from City of Hope cancer center in Los Angeles and biotech company Imugene hope the results in the first human patient will measure up.
“Our previous research demonstrated that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to respond to and kill cancer, as well as stimulate the immune system to be more responsive to other immunotherapies,” said City of Hope oncologist and principal investigator Daneng Li. “We believe CF33-hNIS has the potential to improve outcomes for our patients.”
According to surgical oncologist Susanne Warner, the “oncolytic virus trains the immune system to target a specific cancer cell. Meaning if a similar cancer cell ever tries to regrow, the immune system will be ready and waiting to shut it down.”
If the drug is approved it will become only the second cancer drug approved by the FDA.
ARTICLE: LAURA SPIVAK
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: EPICUPDATES.COM
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