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Cold sore blitz on cancers.

Byline: Lachlan Mackinnon

COLD sore germs can be used to treat head and neck cancer, scientists claimed yesterday.

A genetically-engineered version of the herpes virus has been modi f ied to multiply inside cancer cells and make them burst.

The v i r us , k nown a s OncoVEX, has also been shown to stimulate patients' immune systems, according to a study in the journal Clinical Cancer Research.

It was injected into 17 patients' cancer-hit lymph nodes, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Fourteen patients' tumours shrank, while 93 per cent had no trace of residual cancer in thei r lymph nodes. The majority - 82.4 per cent - were still cancer-free around three years later. Only two of the 13 patients given a "high dose" of virus treatment relapsed.

Dr Kevin Harrington, of the Institute of Cancer Research in London, said: "This was a small study, however the very high rates of tumour response have led us to take this drug into a large scale trial.

"This trial showed for the f irst t ime these oncolyt ic viruses - which target cancer cells - can be safely used in combinat ion wit h other cancer treatments."

Around 650,000 people are diagnosed with head and neck cancer worldwide each year and 350,000 die.
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 31, 2010
Words:212
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