Smallpox Vaccine destroys Cancer Cells

A new finding claims that cancer can be treated with smallpox vaccine. A genetically engineered smallpox vaccine lessened the risk of death for patients with complex liver cancer by almost 60 percent in a mid-stage study, which prompts the launch of a later-stage trial.

Scientists at institutions, which includes the University of California, San Diego, and privately held biotech company Jennerex Inc presented Phase 2 trial data on Saturday demonstrating that patients given high doses of the revised vaccine, known as JX-594, lived for a median of 13.8 months compared with 6.7 months for patients treated with one-tenth of that dose.

The small 30-patient study discovered that 66 percent of the high-dose patients were following a year, compared with 23 percent of the low-dose group.

Momentary flu-like symptoms were the main spin-off seen in the trial, which got presented in San Francisco at a conference of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.

Scientists fascinated for decades about the idea of using viruses in alerting the immune system in seeking and destroying cancerous cells. That interest has taken off in recent years as improvement in genetic engineering allows them in customizing viruses targeting tumors.

JX-594 can be obtained from a strain of the virus vaccinia, once commonly used in vaccinating children against smallpox.

Chief medical officer at Jennerex, Dr. David Kirn, says viruses are naturally cancer selective and tumor cells are intrinsically vulnerable to viral attack,” said, The researchers have enhanced the We enhance selectivity by further calming and diluting the virus in normal tissue.

He said the first patient got signed up to a Phase 2b study, which compares JX-594 with standard care in 120 liver cancer patients who have stopped reacting to Nexavar, also called sorafenib, sold by Onyx Pharmaceuticals.

Patients in the trial are going to be given first an intravenous combination of JX-594, followed by direct vaccinations into the tumor. Dr. Kirn said the trial is going to allow for more nonstop dosing than in earlier studies.

Jennerex plans to launch next year a Phase 3 head-to-head test that compares JX-594 with Nexavar and to conduct earlier-stage trials in other types of cancer.

Other ventures into using engineered viruses include biotech giant Amgen Inc’s deal in January in an effort to pay up to $1 billion for BioVex and its cancer drug development platform centered on the herpes simplex virus.

Jennerex primarily financed by investors from Canada and South Korea. European rights to JX-594 got authorized to Transgene SA. Other regional licenses apprehended by Lee’s Pharmaceutical Ltd for China and Green Cross Corp for South Korea.