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Herpes Virus May Treat Advanced Ovarian Cancer
Researchers have long tried to cure genital herpes, without much success. But now, it turns out, the notorious virus may actually be put to use: researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston have been using the type 2 herpes simplex virus to create a virotherapy against metastatic ovarian cancer.
To marshal the power of the virus for good, the scientists modified it by switching off a gene that normally enables it to multiply and kill healthy cells. The new, modified herpes virus can thrive only inside of cancer cells, where it wreaks its destructive force without damaging the healthy cells outside.
The Baylor team tested the virotherapy by transplanting human ovarian tumors into the peritoneal cavities of mice and then treating the mice with the modified herpes virus. The treatment turned out to be highly effective, and cancer was completely eradicated in more than 87 percent of the animals, according to the February issue of Cancer Gene Therapy. Scientists hope to begin phase 1 clinical trials with human patients next year. If those are successful, phase 3 trials will begin in another two to five years, says lead author Xiaoliu (Shaun) Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.