Virttu Biologics Limited, a UK biotechnology company with expertise in the field of oncolytic viruses, has announced that it has treated the first cohort of patients in its Phase I/IIa clinical study of its oncolytic virus, SEPREHVIR(R) (HSV1716) for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.
The study is being conducted at the Weston Park Hospital (Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) under the clinical leadership of Professor Penella Woll. The primary objective of the study is to determine the safety and tolerability of SEPREHVIR when given both as single and repeat intrapleural doses in patients with inoperable, malignant pleural mesothelioma ("MPM"); a form of lung cancer that is almost exclusively caused by occupational exposure to certain types of asbestos.
SEPREHVIR (HSV1716), is a variant of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 that has been engineered to kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
Malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) has a long latency (30-60 years from occupational exposure) and Virttu estimates that around 9,500 new cases of MPM occur each year in the US and the larger EU member states. Furthermore, the incidence is predicted to continue to rise in more recently industrialized nations, including China and India. MPM survival is influenced by disease stage, patient age and overall health and management is largely palliative and multimodal, combining surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy.