A new cancer therapy is being studied and the chances are very high that this new treatment will change forever the guidelines.

Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other treatments are brutal because they attack not only the cancer cells but either the normal cells of our body. The therapies used until now have many side effect like: hair loss, nausea, vomiting and are very difficult to handle by the patients.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a single treatment that can “intelligently” target cancer cells and in the same time stimulate our immune system to fight the cancer itself.

The treatment is called T-VEC, for talimogene laherparepvec, and will be sold under the brand name Imlygic. T-VEC is engineered from herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), which is a relatively innocuous virus. The genetic modifications that were made to the virus are:

  1. Attenuate the virus (so it could not cause herpes anymore)
  2. Increase selectivity for cancer cells (target only cancer cells and leave normal cells unharmed)
  3. Secrete the cytokine GM-CSF (granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor is a protein secreted in the body to initiate an immune response)

T-VEC is an oncolytic immunotherapy which works by injecting directly into a tumor, specially a skin cancer, and the indication for which the drug has been cleared for use.

This new treatment has 2 modes of action:

  1. The virus directly attacks the cancer cells
  2. Triggers the body’s immune system to attack the cancer cells.

Currently is awaiting approval in Europe and USA, where is recommended for approval by the FDA.

Imlygic represents “a first step in the direction of a complete change” in the way we treat cancer, and in the quality of life that patients with cancer will have during their therapies. The new way of attacking cancer cells is a very important step but more data and further studies are needed to create a wider concept about its positive and side effects.


  • http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/845504
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talimogene_laherparepvec
  • http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/nov/02/fda-approval-imlygic-cancer-hunting-viral-treatment
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talimogene_laherparepvec#/media/File:Talimogene_laherparepvec_MOA.jpg

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