Viral immunotherapy gets green light for the NHS
The UK’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have approved the use of a viral immunotherapy for use in the National Health Service.
Talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) is a modified form of the herpes virus designed to treat inoperable metastatic melanoma in adults. The virus kills cancer in two ways – by attacking them directly and by directing the patient’s own immune system against the tumour. T-VEC is the first treatment of its kind to be approved for NHS use.
“It is very exciting news that NICE has approved T-VEC for patients with advanced melanoma. This is the culmination of 10 years’ work on this agent through phase I, II and III clinical trials,” said Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at The Institute of Cancer Research. Professor Harrington led the UK-arm of the T-VEC phase I, II and III trials
In May 2015 it was reported that 16.3% of patients treated with T-VEC in a phase III clinical trial showed a “durable treatment response”, compared with just 2.1% in an untreated control.
“The treatment has not only been shown to be effective, but has relatively mild side-effects making it particularly suitable for patients who can’t be given some of the other immunotherapies on the market,” said Prof. Harrington.
“NICE deserves credit for working with the manufacturer to make this treatment available to patients in England and Wales who would otherwise have limited options.”