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April 14, 2010

Scientists claim 'cure' for skin cancer

Topics: Health Issues, Medicine

According to the American Cancer Society, 9,000 people died in the U.S. of melanoma in 2009. Prevalence of Stage III and Stage IV disease is 120,000 and median survival for Stage IV disease is six months. Now, a group of scientists are testing a vaccine in the UK that they claim can treat or cure skin cancer, and offer significant hope for even the most malignant form of skin cancer.

Their study showed that almost half of the participants with malignant melanoma, were either cured, or had tumors that decreased in size by 50% or more:

Dr Howard Kaufman, of Chicago's Rush University Medical Centre, said: "Our study shows we may have a cure for some advanced melanoma patients and a drug which has real benefits for others.

"This will save thousands of lives a year."

Over the past 25 years, rates of melanoma in Britain have risen faster than any other common cancer and 2,000 die from the disease every year.

A study of 50 patients with advanced melanoma who had been given no more than nine months to live found that 16 per cent of them recovered completely with the vaccine. They have been disease-free for more than four years.

Another 28 per cent saw the size of their tumours more than halved.

Although not stated in the above-linked Telegraph article, Dr. Kaufman et al. appear to be using the newly-developed vaccine OncoVEX(gm-csf), which is currently being evaluated in a Phase 3 multi-national study in metastatic melanoma and a Phase 3 study in squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck (scheduled to commence in the second half of 2010).

OncoVEX_MoA_diagram_small.gif(Click image to see a more detailed version)

According to Biovex, the manufacturer of the vaccine, OncoVEX(gm-csf) uses a highly potent oncolytic virus that replicates selectively in tumors; destroying cancer cells while leaving surrounding healthy cells unharmed (oncolytic viruses replicate selectively in tumor cells and do not replicate in normal cells). The vaccine is also designed to induce a powerful immune response to kill cancer cells throughout the body. Both local and distant modes of action have been validated in the clinic, where multiple patients with metastatic disease progressing at enrollment have become free of disease.

Biovex notes that previous clinical trials have enrolled patients with breast cancer, melanoma, head and neck cancer and pancreatic cancer, with indications of clinical activity being observed in each.

Related: Oncolytic Viruses and Virotherapy

H/t - AJStrata (who notes that this breakthrough came without the need for embryonic stem cells, so no young human beings were destroyed in the discovery of this wonderful cure.)

Posted by Richard at April 14, 2010 8:14 AM

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