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The FDA Just Approved One Cancer-Killing Virus. Expect More
Wired News

By the numbers, the newest FDA-approved treatment for skin cancer doesn’t seem a real game changer. A $65,000 course of treatment extends melanoma patients’ lives by less than four and a half months, on average — and that result is barely statistically significant.

It’s how the new drug — Imlygic, made by the pharmaceutical company Amgen — works that has the oncology world so worked up. Imlygic is a virus — alive and infectious, the first to get a stamp of approval in the US for its ability to attack cancer cells. It opens a whole new front in the fight against cancer, which has the sneaky habit of coming back after chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery. “It is a totally new class of weapons that we can now use,” says Antonio Chiocca, a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. And the armory could be bigger, because coming up right behind Imlygic are over a dozen clinical trials for more anti-cancer viruses.