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.
The first cohort of patients was treated with a single dose of SEPREHVIR. The treatment was well tolerated with no dose limiting toxicity or serious adverse events related to treatment. The current safety profile supports continued recruitment of patients into the second cohort, where patients will receive two doses, one week apart.
Virttu CEO Dr Steven Powell commented:
"This study is an important step in our efforts to both develop a new treatment option for mesothelioma and demonstrate the safety of regional delivery of oncolytic viruses. We are delighted that the first patients have been treated successfully and we are looking forward to future data as the study continues at the Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield, under Professor Woll's leadership."
In addition to MPM, Virttu is pursuing Phase I and Phase II studies in high grade glioma and hepatocellular carcinoma and is also supporting clinical development in paediatric cancers in the USA.
SOURCE Virttu Biologics Limited