The Utah Cancer Institute possibly found a cure for melanoma, which is one of the most deadliest types of cancer out there, and also the most common. When it comes to the most deadly or progressive types of skin cancer, melanoma is the worst, and it forms within the skin cells that produce melanin. If you are unfamiliar with melanin, it is the pigmentation in the skin, which gives the skin a certain color. Over 76 percent of cancer deaths are from melanoma, and in 2015, it is estimated the 73,870 new cases will be diagnosed just in the United States alone.
This is all part of the reason why the researchers at the Utah Cancer Institute are so concerned with finding a cure or treatment option for skin cancer, specifically melanoma. The researchers have actually mutated the herpes virus, injected it into the tumors of the melanoma, and then the virus begins attacking the cancer cells. In order to get the herpes virus to work this way, the researchers have to alter the virus, so that it will only kill off cancer cells, and not kill off the normal healthy cells. Typical treatments like chemotherapy and radiation have advanced through the years, but it is still common for those treatments to attack healthy cells as well, which is why a lot of people have nasty side effects and still often die from the disease. The treatment that the Utah Cancer Institute is trying with the herpes virus is known as cancer immunotherapy, which is done by just using the immune system of the person to help fight off the cancer cells.
There has been a lot of research in using immunotherapy to treat and beat cancer, however it is hard to get the body to recognize the cancer cells as foreign bodies. Often times, the melanoma would not be attacked by the immune system, since the cancer cells would hide, and the body wouldn’t know it was a bad cell. Now, the herpes virus is being used to spark the immune system response through memory, and that has completely cured 25 percent of patients already. This treatment allows the patients to avoid chemotherapy and radiation, which keeps the healthy cells healthy, while allowing the immune system the chance to fight the melanoma at the core site of the disease. The treatment also helps the body fight off the bad cells if the cells travel to other parts of the body as well, and this is huge since cancer is often a fast-spreading disease.
The study shows that over 60 percent of patients have seen huge results, with 25 percent seeing a complete cure of the melanoma. However, more research and larger studies will need to be done to determine just how well the immunotherapy treatment works, and then side effects need to be really looked at. As of right now, manipulating the herpes virus to treat and cure melanoma is looking promising, but researchers warn this is still in the early stages of development. The really good aspect to this type of treatment is that it uses your own body to fight off the cancer cells, which means that the treatment is more likely to be successful in a wider group of people.
Researchers warn people about the warning signs of melanoma as well as risk factors, because prevention and early detection is key in fighting off this severe disease. If you have fair skin, history of melanoma in your family, a history of sunburn, weak immune system, and many unusual moles or just a lot of moles, you have a higher risk of developing melanoma. You can avoid getting melanoma by wearing protective clothing when outside, wearing sunscreen, and avoiding the midday sunlight. You want to always wear at least SPF 15 sunscreen, even putting some on during the winter. You should also avoid tanning beds, since they are one of the biggest causes of skin cancer, and also know your body. If you have moles, you should visually inspect them for changes in size or color. If you don’t have moles, then you need to keep your eyes open to if any develop on your body, and have them checked if you feel they might be turning into something more than just a mole.