In Goodyear, AZ, Alan Tan, MD, of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America is using a genetically modified herpes virus to attack cancer cells.
Dr. Tan is using a modified form of the herpes virus through the FDA-approved T-VEC (talimogene laherparepvec) immunotherapy treatment to fight off melanoma in his patients.
This type of treatment is not only used by Dr. Tan, but also by other cancer specialists, as well. Take Duke University’s Henry Friedman, MD: instead of using the modified herpes virus, Dr. Friedman successfully utilized the polio virus to treat deadly brain tumors.
Dr. Tan explains this T-VEC therapy as “a treatment that uses a virus to infect the cancer cells while avoiding normal, healthy cells. In this case, the virus used is a genetically modified herpes virus that is injected directly into tumors such as melanoma skin lesions or lymph nodes.”
By using the T-VEC therapy, the genetically modified herpes virus is injected into the cancer cells, while still being able to avoid healthy cells.
The merit of this treatment finds itself in the fact that once the virus is injected in the tumor, a special protein is release that allows the immune system to recognize that same protein in other parts of the body. This can potentially destroy cancer cells throughout the entire body.
The future of this treatment is bright–Dr. Tan predicts that “patients that were once thought to have terminal cancer prognosis may eventually live longer and possibly be cured.”
With the rise of new cancer-fighting treatment, and the work of cancer specialists such as Dr. Tan, cancer may have just found its match.