UPDATE 1-Amgen wins EU green light for first virus-based cancer drug

Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:10am EDT
 
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* One of several new drugs for most deadly form of skin cancer

* Has also been recommended by a U.S. advisory panel (Adds details on product, comment from company, outside expert)

By Ben Hirschler

LONDON, Oct 23 (Reuters) - A first-in-class drug from Amgen based on a tumour-killing virus was given a green light by European regulators on Friday, paving the way for its approval within a couple of months.

The decision is a further milestone for a technology that has long fascinated scientists but has previously proved difficult to harness.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) said its experts had recommended approval of Imlygic, also known as talimogene laherparepvec or "T-Vec", for treating melanoma, making it another option among several new drugs for the most deadly form of skin cancer.

"Viral immunotherapy represents a completely new way of treating cancer, so it's extremely exciting to see T-Vec become the first treatment of this type to gain the green light from European regulators," said Paul Workman, Chief Executive of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.

The drug is recommended for treating melanoma that cannot be removed by surgery and has spread without affecting internal organs.

Imlygic uses a herpes simplex virus, the type that causes cold sores, which has been modified to only infect cancer cells. It is injected directly into tumours where it replicates and causes cancer cells to rupture and die, also stimulating a system-wide immune response.   Continued...