First cancer-killing virus therapy approved by the FDA

On Oct. 27, 2015, the U.S. FDA gave its first approval for the use of a cancer-killing virus therapy, or oncolytic virus. Specifically, the FDA approved Amgen’s Imlygic, which is generically known as T-VEC, for the treatment of melanoma lesions in the skin and lymph nodes.
“This approval is a huge milestone for the entire oncolytic virus field,” said Dr. John Bell responding to the news. Dr. Bell is a pioneer and thought leader in the discovery and development of oncolytic viruses.
“It’s a validation of the oncolytic virus platform, which we’ve known for years has a lot of potential and is now going to be realized,” added Dr. Bell, a senior scientist with The Ottawa Hospital, scientific director of BioCanRx and a professor at uOttawa.
Oncolytic viruses are engineered viruses that specifically infect and destroy cancer cells, but leave normal healthy cells unharmed. When the viruses invade and replicate in the cancer cells, they don’t just kill the infected cells; they also elicit a strong anti-tumour response.
“I would like to congratulate all the scientists and clinicians who worked on this project over many years, led by Rob Coffin in Britain,” said Dr. Bell. Coffin is a member of the BioCanRx Research Management Committee, which approves and manages the research investments made by BioCanRx.
For more information, please see:
“FDA approves first-of-its-kind product for the treatment of melanoma,” FDA news release
“FDA approves cancer treatment that uses virus to attack tumors,” Boston Globe