FierceBiotech — Arming the rabbit pox virus to fight cancer

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Oncolytic viruses hold promise as cancer treatments due to their cancer-killing prowess and ability to be combined with other therapies. But few drugs derived from oncolytic viruses have made it to the market.

Arizona State University spinout OncoMyx Therapeutics is designing anti-cancer therapies from a type of rabbit pox virus called myxoma. The company has early data showing that the virus, when armed with relevant transgenes, can suppress different types of cancer in mice both as an injection directly into tumors and through systemic administration by intravenous infusion.

In mouse models of melanoma and bone cancer, the drug significantly slowed tumor growth, and it was even better at shrinking tumors and prolonging the animal’s lives when paired with a PD-1 or PD-L1 inhibitor, according to data presented at the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer (SITC) virtual meeting.

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