The subject virus is named —vesicular stomatitis virus commonly called VSV, it can infect cattle, but it rarely causes serious infections in humans. It has been found to degrade the tumor cells when injected into the tumor. The virus is engineered to grow in cancer cells, destroy these tumors, and then spread to other cancer sites. During this process, it recruits the immune system to the area with the goal of triggering an immune response.
The virus is genetically altered by adding two genes.
- Human interferon beta gene; which is a natural anti-viral protein. This protects the normal, healthy cells from being infected, while still allowing the virus to work against cancer cells.
- The second gene makes the NIS protein found in the thyroid gland, which allows the researchers to track the virus as it spreads to tumor sites.
“Oncolytic viruses are the next wave of promising cancer immunotherapy treatments,” says Dr. Steven Powell, a medical oncologist with the Sanford Cancer Center in Sioux Falls, S.D., who collaborated with Vyriad on the development of this clinical trial.
The treatment injects an oncolytic (cancer-destroying) virus—vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)—into the tumor.