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New and exciting developments in the cancer treatment field have gotten underway with the first human trial of an injected cancer-killing virus.

While the word virus may trigger negative connotations, particularly after the last two years, scientists are hoping to use one virus’s cancer-killing properties as a treatment.

The virus, known as Vaxinia, has been specifically engineered to kill cancer cells and it’s hoped that it will improve the body’s immune response as part of experimental new treatment.

The Vaxinia virus has had promising results in animal trials and these kinds of viruses have been described as a “smoking gun” in the fight against cancer over the past century.

In early animal trials and in lab experiments which tested the virus against cancers, scientists saw huge success at shrinking tumours of lung, breast, ovarian, pancreatic, and colon cancers.

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With human clinical trials underway, it’s hoped the virus, which has not only been engineered to make cancer cells more recognisable to the body’s immune system but to also harm them, will help people with cancer respond to the disease more effectively.

Scientists have warned that results seen in animal tests do not always translate to humans, but they are hopeful that it will be the case.

Phase 1 of the trial will see 100 cancer patients injected with the virus. Each of these patients has metastatic or advanced solid tumours and has previously tried at least two other treatments.

The patients will be split into two groups – one will receive the Vaxinia injection alone and the other will get the Vaxinia injection alongside another immunotherapy drug.

While the trial isn’t expected to be complete until early 2025, it’s an exciting next step in finding effective cancer treatments.

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