New cancer treatment sees results in UK

A new form of cancer treatment being used in the UK is seeing positive results. The drug, RP2, is a weakened form of the cold sore virus, herpes simplex. It has been modified to kill tumours. 

One man who used the drug had been on end-of-life care. The man, 39 year old Krzystof, had cancer in his salivary glands, near his mouth. He had tried surgery and other treatments with no success. After only a short course of PR2, his cancer appeared to have been cleared. 

Researcher Dr Kevin Harrington said treatment responses were positive for several different types of advanced cancers, including a rare eye cancer. 

Some patients have tried RP2 along with another drug called nivolumab, while others have tried RP2 on its own. Altogether, about 40 patients have tried the treatment as part of a trial.

Findings showed that: 1) three out of nine patients given RP2 only, which included Krzysztof, saw their tumours shrink. 2) Seven out of 30 who had combined treatment also appeared to benefit. 3) Side effects, such as tiredness, were generally mild.

This is not the first time a virus has been used to treat cancer. In 2015, the UK’s National Healthcare System approved a cold-virus-based therapy, called T-Vec, for advanced skin cancer. 

Numbers on cancer in the UK show that there were 365,400 cancer cases from 2016-2018. There were 167,142 deaths from cancer in 2017-2019.


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