T-VEC Keeps Shrinking Melanomas

An experimental vaccine that is injected into melanomas can shrink them for an average of 8 months, according to findings presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2013 meeting. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), this immunotherapy consists of a virus engineered to carry human genes for granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating growth factor (GM-CSF). Once inside a tumor, T-VEC kills tumor cells both by bursting them and by boosting the immune response against them. In a phase III clinical trial, melanomas shrank in 16% of those injected with T-VEC (48 out of 295) compared to just 2% of those treated directly with GM-CSF (30 out of 141). Moreover, melanomas disappeared completely in more than 10% of those treated with T-VEC. Doctors caution that because T-VEC is injected into melanomas, this treatment is only practical for people with accessible tumors.

Virus Shrinks Melanomas by Bursting Cells

A cancer-killing virus may shrink melanomas in people, according to new results from an ongoing clinical trial presented at the 2013 European Cancer Congress in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The virus—called talimogene laherparepvec or T-VEC—is injected into tumors, where it divides until the cells pop. The phase III trial has more than 400 people with melanoma; T-VEC shrank tumors in nearly one-third of them. Moreover, tumors didn’t grow again for at least 9 months in two-thirds of those who responded to the virus. That said, 26% of those treated with T-VEC had serious side effects including fevers and bacterial skin infections.

Engineered Virus Shrinks Melanoma Tumors in Phase III Trial

Researchers report that a modified cold sore virus may help deliver longer lasting shrinkage of melanoma tumors. Called talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC), the engineered virus kills cancer cells directly and boosts the immune response against them by tagging their surfaces with a protein called granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). T-VEC outperformed GM-CSF (administered directly) in a phase III trial of 436 people with melanomas that had spread—tumors shrank more often (26% vs 6%) and were more likely to stay shrunk for at least 6 months (16% vs 2%). The researchers caution that while promising, T-VEC is unlikely to be a stand-alone treatment and suggest that this virus might ultimately be combined with another immunotherapy such as ipilimumab.

Injections That Boost the Immune System Help Shrink Melanomas

A phase III trial suggests that a virus-based treatment could help control melanomas that have spread, according to the pharmaceutical firm Amgen. The treatment, called talimogene laherparepvec or TVEC, involves injecting tumors with a modified cold sore virus. The modifications make the virus grow in cancer cells, but not in normal cells, and make the cancer cells produce a protein called GM-CSF that stimulates the immune system. More than 250 people in the trial received TVEC injections every 2 weeks and tumors shrank in about 40 (16%) of those who were treated.