Head and Neck cancer patient given first Transgene therapy

Head and Neck cancer patient given first Transgene therapy

An oncolytic viral vaccine prepared by French Biotech company Transgene is being used as part of a Clinic Trial for the first time with Head and Neck cancer patients in the UK.

A patient who was first diagnosed in 2011 and has been through all the traditional cancer options, has become the first person in the UK to use a treatment, tailor-made to his personal DNA.

54-year old patient Graham Booth has been given the oncolytic virus ‘vaccine’ in the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, in the Wirral, North West England (1).

The French biotech company Transgene (2) has created the vaccine, myvac®, which they claim is a significant improvement on PD-1 immunotherapies  such as Pembrolizumab (Keytruda) and Nivolumab (Opdivo)

The UK Trial head, Professor Christian Ottensmeier, Professor of Immuno-Oncology at the University of Liverpool and a Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre said that it was amazing to be involved in a Clinical Trial using a therapy that only a few years ago would have been thought of as science fiction. More people are now being enrolled into the UK trial.

Oncolytic viral therapy is a treatment that has rapidly developed over the past decade, and could be used to treat any cancer. Many cancer tumours can be attacked by certain viruses, which can act as ‘carrying agents’. Oncolytic viruses have been modified so they only attack cancer cells, not the host. The new breed of oncolytic viruses have been armed with transgenes that alter the tumour microenvironment and thus inhibit cancer progression. The transgenes might induce cancer cell death, compromise blood supply formation, or enhance immune attack, according to a team of experts at the University of Pittsburgh (3).


  1. Clatterbridge NHS - https://www.clatterbridgecc.nhs.uk/news/first-patient-given-vaccine-cancer-pioneering-clinical-research
  2. Transgene France - https://www.transgene.fr/en/about
  3. Oncolytic virotherapy and tumour microenvironmrent; Adv Exp Med Biol; 2017;1036:157-172, Sarah E. Berkey, Steve H. Thorne, David L. Bartlett - https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29275471/#affiliation-1


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