For the first time, a patient has been injected with an experimental cancer-killing virus. There is still a long way to go, but eventually it must reach the market as a successful method of fighting cancer.

The drug, called CF33-hNIS, is an oncolytic virus, a genetically modified smallpox virus, designed to infect and kill cancer cells while sparing healthy cells.

The virus invades cells and duplicates itself. Eventually, the infected cell bursts open, releasing thousands of new virus particles, which act like antigens and stimulate the immune system to attack nearby cancer cells.

Previous research in animals showed that the drug can trigger and strengthen the immune system to track down and destroy the cancer cells. The drug is now being tested in the first 100 people, according to co-developers of the drug, the City of Hope cancer research center in Los Angeles and the Australian biotech company Imugene.

“Our previous research showed that oncolytic viruses can stimulate the immune system to kill the cancer cells and make it more responsive to immunotherapy,” said lead researcher Daneng Li of the City of Hope.

This first experiment is mainly intended to demonstrate that the virus is safe for humans. After that, its effectiveness is examined. Much research is still needed, but the drug has been described as a “game changer” because it is particularly potent and has the ability to activate immune cells, said oncologist Susanne Warner, who previously led the animal research.

Bron (nen): Science Alert

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