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Oncolytic Viruses in Melanoma Treatment

Introduction of Melanoma

Melanoma is the least common form of skin cancer, yet associated with the highest mortality rate. Early stages of melanoma are highly curable, with a 5-year survival rate of 98%, but once metastases to other organs occur, the survival rate decreases to 15% to 20%. If diagnosed early, melanoma and surrounding normal tissue may be removed surgically, but if there is spread to lymph nodes or other organs, the options for treatment may include systemic therapy, palliative surgery/radiation, or enrollment into a clinical trial.

Oncolytic Viruses in Melanoma Treatment

Several drugs for melanoma, including a cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen-4 inhibitor (ipilimumab), BRAF targeted agents (dabrafenib, vemurafenib), MEK inhibitors (cobimetinib, trametinib), and programmed death-1 inhibitors (nivolumab, pembrolizumab), have been approved by Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With these approval drugs, improvements in overall survival for melanoma have been reported. However, not all patients will be candidates for receiving these newer systemic agents, and after initial treatment, the melanoma may recur. Immunotherapies have transformed the landscape of melanoma treatment with exponential progress occurring in the past decade. The use of engineered oncolytic viruses has followed in that pattern and continue to evolve as additional options.

Oncolytic Viruses for the Treatment of Melanoma

Oncolytic viruses for treating various cancers have been investigated over the past several years, and they are being evaluated as immunotherapies for a variety of advanced malignancies. These viruses selectively replicate within and lyse cancer cells without harming normal cells. Talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC or OncoVEXGM-CSF), is the first oncolytic virus FDA approved, while there are many ongoing studies regarding other oncolytic viruses for the treatment of melanomas.

Reference

  1. Trager, M.H.; et al. Oncolytic viruses for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. Current Treatment Options in Oncology. 2020, 21(4):26-26.

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