The Institute of Cancer Research, London, has issued the following statement from Professor Kevin Harrington in response to the decision by NICE to approve the use of talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) for treating inoperable metastatic melanoma in adults when systemically administered immunotherapies are not suitable.
Professor Kevin Harrington, Professor of Biological Cancer Therapies at the ICR and Consultant Clinical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, who led the UK-arm of the T-VEC phase I, II and III trials, said: “It is very exciting news that NICE has approved T-VEC for patients with advanced melanoma, making it the first of its kind to be approved for use on the NHS. This is the culmination of 10 years’ work on this agent through phase I, II and III clinical trials.
“T-VEC is a modified form of the herpes virus and kills cancer cells in two ways — by attacking them directly and by directing the patient’s own immune system against the tumour. The treatment has not only been shown to be effective, but has relatively mild side-effects making it particularly suitable for patients who can’t be given some of the other immunotherapies on the market. NICE deserves credit for working with the manufacturer to make this treatment available to patients in England and Wales who would otherwise have limited options.”
In 2015, a landmark clinical trial by researchers at the ICR and The Royal Marsden showed that the genetically engineered herpes virus can halt the progression of skin cancer by killing cancer cells and sparking the immune system into action against tumours.