A drug called Imlygic that relies upon a genetically engineered herpes virus to attack and kill the cancerous cells has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It is the first virotherapy to get approval for the treatment of skin cancer or melanoma.
Though virus has been used to treat various kinds of diseases for decades, the ability of virus to shrink tumors is still unsure. In a recent study that was conducted on 400 patients with metastatic melanoma, the drug Imylgic showed positive results by shrinking the tumors.
Metastatic melanoma affects around 10,000 people every year in the US and it results in the formation of lesions on the skin and lymph nodes.
When the drug was injected into the patient, the herpes virus identified the tumor cells and invaded it. It caused the tumor cells to burst leaving the tumor shrunk and also sent signals to the immune system. Though, it caused flu-like symptoms in patients, it was milder. The drug extended survival time by 4.4 months and shrunk tumors in more than 16 percent of patients. This new technique creates hopes for developing many more virotherapies for the treatment of various other late-stage cancers.