For people with cancer and autoimmune disorders, where the body’s immune system attacks healthy cells, treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy are brutal, "scorched-earth" affairs.
These therapies can offer patients the best shot at success because cancer cells are slightly — but not much — more susceptible to them.
But even if chemo or radiation are successful, the side effects can be devastating. They can even cause new diseases in the body to emerge, sometimes leading to death.
However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a single treatment that can intelligently target cancer cells while leaving healthy ones alone.
All while simultaneously stimulating the immune system to fight the cancer itself.
The treatment is called T-VEC (talimogene laherparepvec). But it will be sold under the brand name Imlygic.
T-VEC is injected directly into a cancerous tumor. It uses a modified virus to hunt cancer cells in what experts say is an important and significant step in the battle against the deadly disease.
Developed by the Massachusetts-based biotech company BioVex, T-VEC uses a special modified version of the herpes virus.
Unlike current treatments like chemotherapy and radiotherapy — which kill cancer cells, but also damage the rest of the body — targeted viruses can be programmed to attack only cancer cells.
So instead of grueling chemo treatments that can result in prolonged periods of nausea and vomiting, T-VEC offers the opportunity for patients to suffer the equivalent of just a day or two’s flu after they receive the treatment.
|Amgen (AMGN) bought BioVex five years ago in a billion-dollar deal.|
Dr. Stephen Russell is a researcher at the Mayo Clinic who specializes in oncolytic virotherapy, as these treatments are known. In a statement, he said that the FDA’s clearance of Imlygic represents "a huge milestone" in cancer treatment development.
Treatments such as T-VEC directly attack the cancer cells and then trigger the body’s immune response to rid the body of the virus itself and other rouge cancer cells.
One incredible phenomenon that researchers are observing with this treatment is its ability to affect all cancerous tumors in the body — not just at the site of injection.
What appears to be happening, one researcher said, is that the body’s immune system seems to "wake up" to the presence of all tumors in the body.
Even those that were not injected with the virus!
The goal of these types of targeted cancer-hunting treatments is to completely eliminate the use of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other archaic forms of cancer treatments.
Russell is hopeful that Imlygic represents a "a first step in the direction of a complete change in the game" in cancer treatment.
As he said in the UK Guardian:
"We can’t prematurely claim that we’ve achieved our ultimate goal, because we haven’t; this really is a single step along that path. But it’s a very important and very significant step."
A very significant step indeed.
This type of treatment would not only improve the way we treat cancers, but vastly improve people’s quality of life as they undergo treatment.
A patient’s state of mind is crucial to winning a battle against cancer.
So in addition to a much more effective physical means of curing cancer …
Using treatments like T-Vec will alleviate a patients already tumultuous experience, help cultivate a more positive outlook, and give hope where it is much needed.
I think I speak for all of us when I say I hope these type of treatments become the norm sooner rather than later.
We are on our way.
Happy and healthy investing,
Uncommon Wisdom Daily