Talimogene Laherparepvec: A groundbreaking viral therapy for late stage melanoma

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Baltimore classification: dsDNA
Family: Herpesviridae
Virion: Enveloped
Capsid symmetry: Icosahedral
Replication site: Nucleus and cytoplasm

Overview of Talimogene Laherparepvev (T-VEC)

[ Figure 1: ]

Figure 1: Scanning Electron Micrograph of Bifidobacterium cells cultured by Professor Gerald Tannock of the Royal Society of New Zealand in 2014 [1].

By Alex Fazioli

Talimogene Laherparepvec (T-VEC) is an engineered Herpes simplex virus type 1 designed to specifically target, reproduce, and lyse human tumor cells [1]. T-VEC also produces granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) to improve the antitumor immune response within the human body upon the lysis of tumor cells [1]. T-VEC avoids infecting non-cancerous cells by having all copies of two key neurovirulence factor genes deleted RL1 and US12 [2]. The deletion of the US12 gene puts its promoter in close proximity to the US11 increasing its expression which has been shown to increase the ability of T-VEC to replicate within tumour cells [3].

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Legend/credit: Electron micrograph of the Ebola Zaire virus. This was the first photo ever taken of the virus, on 10/13/1976. By Dr. F.A. Murphy, now at U.C. Davis, then at the CDC.
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1. Andtbacka, R. H., Kaufman, H. L., Collichio, F., Amatruda, T., Senzer, N., Chesney, J., ... & Milhem, M. (2015). Talimogene laherparepvec improves durable response rate in patients with advanced melanoma. Journal of clinical oncology, 33(25), 2780-2788.

2. Pol, J., Kroemer, G., & Galluzzi, L. (2016). First oncolytic virus approved for melanoma immunotherapy. Oncoimmuneology, 5(1), e1115641 (3 pages).

3. Liu, B. L., Robinson, M., Han, Z., Branston, R. H., English, C., Reay, P., & ... Coffin, R. S. (2003). ICP34.5 deleted herpes simplex virus with enhanced oncolytic, immune stimulating, and anti-tumour properties. Gene Therapy, 10(4), 292.

Authored for BIOL 238 Microbiology, taught by Joan Slonczewski, 2018, Kenyon College.