GENE THERAPY: Engineered Herpes Attacks Cancer Cells
U.K.’s Medicines Control Agency (MCA) has approved BioVex Limited’s (70 Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 4RX, U.K.; Tel: +44 (0) 1235 4441900, +44 (0) 1235 4441901; Website: biovex.com) application to commence a clinical trial of OncoVEX GM-CSF . The Phase I trial will be undertaken at the Hammersmith Hospital in London and led by Charles Coombes (Professor of Oncology, Imperial College School of Medicine). The safety and biological activity of OncoVEX GM-CSF will be evaluated in a number of solid tumors in an 18 patient study. These tumors include melanoma, breast cancer, gastro-intestinal cancer and head and neck cancer.
OncoVEX products are versions of herpes simplex virus (HSV I) which have been engineered such that they replicate selectively in tumor cells, destroying the tumor in the process. In addition to the anti-tumor effect provided by the oncolytic virus itself, OncoVEX GM-CSF carries the gene encoding human GM-CSF. GM-CSF is an immune stimulator and its presence is designed to further stimulate the body’s immune response to tumor cells.
“OncoVEX GM-CSF is the first product in the BioVex portfolio to progress into the clinic,” notes Gareth Beynon, chief executive officer of BioVex. “The approval of the company’s first application to the MCA is therefore a major milestone in the company’s development.”
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