How Does Oncolytic Immunotherapy Work?

Reviewed on 1/12/2022

HOW DOES ONCOLYTIC IMMUNOTHERAPY WORK?

Oncolytic immunotherapy is a class of drugs used to treat melanoma (skin cancer that develops in the cells called melanocytes responsible for producing melanin pigment) that is unresectable (cannot be surgically removed) or have recurred after the initial surgery.

Oncolytic immunotherapy is a type of advanced medicine called a “gene therapy product,” wherein oncolytic viruses (herpes virus) are genetically engineered (changed in the laboratory) to specifically attack, replicate within, and destroy melanoma tumors. 

The viruses infect (enter the cells) and replicate (multiply) in tumor cells, initiate tumor cell lysis (rupture of the cell wall or membrane) and induce anti-tumor immunity in the body. Although they can invade both cancerous and normal healthy cells, they cannot replicate in the healthy tissue, thus making them harmless for the surrounding healthy cells. 

Oncolytic immunotherapy is available as a solution for intralesional (into the lesion) injection.

Oncolytic immunotherapy works in the following ways:

  • It belongs to a class of medications called "oncolytic viruses" that are derived from a weakened, modified herpes simplex virus 1 (cold sore virus) that works by infecting and multiplying inside the melanoma cells and enforcing the melanoma cells to produce a protein called granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor, which stimulates the patient’s immune system to recognize and destroy melanoma cells.
  • They lead to virus-induced tumor cell death known as immunogenic cancer cell death by allowing the immune system to recognize tumor cells and provide long-lasting antitumor immunity. 

HOW IS ONCOLYTIC IMMUNOTHERAPY USED?

Oncolytic immunotherapy is indicated for the local treatment of unresectable cutaneous, subcutaneous, and nodal lesions in patients with melanoma recurrence after the initial surgery.

WHAT ARE SIDE EFFECTS OF ONCOLYTIC IMMUNOTHERAPY?

Some of the common side effects include:

Other rare side effects include:

Information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible side effects, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. Check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure these drugs do not cause any harm when you take them along with other medicines. Never stop taking your medication and never change your dose or frequency without consulting your doctor.

QUESTION

Self-examination is important in the detection of skin cancer. See Answer

WHAT ARE NAMES OF ONCOLYTIC IMMUNOTHERAPY?

Generic and brand names of oncolytic immunotherapy include:

References
https://reference.medscape.com/drugs/oncolytic-immunotherapy

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a616006.html

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31079797/

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27988837/

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