We’re still far from eradicating cancer, but researchers are making progress with all sorts of interesting therapies that could put a stop to abnormal cell growth and cure certain types of cancer. One of the newly approved remedies involves infecting the patient’s body with a variation of the herpes virus that won’t cause herpes as we think of it. Instead, it’ll find and attack tumor cells and kill them.

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The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved the new virus-based therapy, Ars Technica reports, which uses the talimogene laherparepvec (T-VEC) virus, a genetically engineered herpex simplex strain that’s very unfriendly to cancer cells.

The virus can treat advanced melanoma, initiating “cellular carnage” when meeting these types of cells. The virus also carries a protein called GM-CSF that triggers the immune system that jumps in as the virus destroys cancer cells.

T-VEC isn’t a miracle cure, but clinical trials have shown that the virus was able to shrink down tumors and extend patient survival by 4.4 months. Combined with other cancer-treating therapies, the drug might offer even better results, but there’s no research to prove it.

The first idea for using this form of treatment originates from a few decades ago, when researchers first thought of using the power of a virus – which hijacks cells to replicate and then kills them – to kill cancerous cells. But actually training virus cells to target cancer wasn’t successful until recently.

More details about T-VEC therapy are available in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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