A human virus being harnessed to treat cancer? Who would have thought this could be the way forward in terms for cancer research? The treatment being tested is called T-Vec, is a modified version of the herpes virus and we might be hearing a lot more about it over the coming year.

According to late stage studies, T-Vec will be a promising new treatment for skin cancer in particular. The treatment itself is a version of the type of herpes that causes cold-sores, HSV1. Remarkably, it has been proven to stymie the growth of tumours and completely get rid of them.

It seems the common cold-sore isn’t so nasty after all. This modified version cannot grow in healthy cells but can in cancerous cells which it then effectively kills.

This late-stage trial is in its third phase and, gleaning such results at this point could mean that the product is licensed for market very soon. The European Medicine’s Agency is currently considering the approval of this treatment but a decision shouldn’t take too long. It was reported that 25% of patients who were administered with the treatment responded well. 10% experienced complete tumour eradication and 16% saw their tumours reduce by half.

More specifically, 436 participants, with an aggressive form of inoperable malignant melanoma, from all over the the globe, and across 64 centres took part. The results show that this form of treatment could add years onto the lives of those who are affected by skin cancer. They also show that this sort of treatment impacts upon the immune system, bolstering it against these cancer cells. It is easier on the system than invasive treatments like chemo-therapy and coupled with other cancer drugs, could increase its efficacy. This exciting study is published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Discovering that viruses like herpes have the extraordinary ability to specifically target and kill cancer cells just shows us that the possibilities are endless. Finding a therapy like this for skin cancer means we couldn’t be that far away from finding one that prevents against all forms of cancer. It could only a matter of time. With a treatment gleaning results like this at phase three trial stage, this outcome is certainly something to be excited about.