ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ONCOLYTIC VIRO-IMMUNO THERAPY
Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) is a type of cancer treatment which uses a virus that has the potential to halt the uncontrollable growth, or even destroy, cancer cells.
Although the term virotherapy may not have been around too long, the phenomenon itself has.
In Catholicism, the patron saint of cancer patients is St. Peregrine (1265 – 1345). The legend goes that he had a huge ulcerative growth on his leg which exposed the bone, becoming severely infected. Amputation of the leg seemed to be the only solution. The night before the planned amputation he spent praying in a chapel. When he woke up, his leg had healed completely.
Today we cannot be sure that this ulcerative growth was really cancer. However, if it was, then we cannot rule out the possibility that the healing was the result of an oncolytic virus.
By the end of the 19th century, cancer curing properties had been observed in bacteria. Tumours in patients who caught a bacterial infection were observed to stabilize or shrink.
Since then virotherapy research has been continuing with varying intensity.
Positive observations prompted the preclinical testing of several viruses.
In the early 1950’s a few viruses were even tested in relatively small clinical trials. Several cancer patients showed improvement. However, the improvement was rather short-lived and the pathogenicity of the viruses could not be controlled. In these studies there was no real eﬀect on the survival of the cancer patients.
The earliest scientiﬁc publication with the word ‘virotherapy’ in the title or abstract which can be found in PubMed today dates from 1960. It was at this time, when the screening of viruses in preclinical models of cancer was started, which led to the development of OVIT.
Several decades later the interest in virotherapy increased once again.
A listing reached close to 100 recent ongoing virotherapy clinical trials run by industry and well known universities and academia. The tested viruses included herpes simplex as well as polio virus.
The therapeutic areas include melanoma, glioma, colorectal and prostate cancer.
There are three main types of immunotherapy; active, passive and indirect.
Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) is a speciﬁc active immunotherapy.
There is a slight overlap, since oncolytic viruses are often also immunomodulators, which constitute the nonspeciﬁc part of active immunotherapy. In addition, oncolytic viruses are oncotropic, selectively targeting cancer cells.
An oncotropic and oncolytic virus has dual actions; ﬁrst it is oncolytic, and second, it is an immunomodulator that activates the immune system.
CANCER VIROTHERAPY – CONCEPT, HISTORY & MECHANISMS
The Discovery of Oncotropism & Oncolysis
Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) was ﬁrst recognised during the early 1900’s when vaccination of a viral agent in cancer patients was found to show an unexpected improvement in their condition. During the 1940’s, scientists discovered that tumour cells presented an increased sensitivity to viruses. They discovered that viruses could proliferate selectively in animal tumours (oncotropism). In some cases, this behaviour was accompanied by oncolysis (breakdown) of the cancer cell. This discovery demonstrated that viruses (at least theoretically) could be used as anti-cancer therapies, however, there were still many roadblocks in the way of making oncolytic virotherapy a viable and practical therapeutic reality.
During the1950’s, and through the 1970’s, compilations of data revealed that the measles virus induced temporary remission in patients with Hodgkin’s disease and Burkin’s lymphoma. Oncolytic activity was also observed in inﬂuenza viruses, enteroviruses, amongst others. There are reports of successful use of adenovirus in cases of cervical cancer and enteroviruses in gastrointestinal tumours.
While the thought of having a viral drug that could hone in on a tumour and destroy it was very attractive, there were some serious stumbling blocks preventing the dream of becoming a reality.
Firstly, some of the patients who were given viral oncolytic drugs developed uncontrollable viral infections from the injected virus. In some cases, the rabies virus was used, and while it eﬀectively destroyed the cancer, it caused the untimely death of the patients it was injected into.
Secondly, in most cases the purposeful viral “infection” was met with a strong immune response from the body that seriously attenuated the oncolytic eﬀect.
Importantly, there were some clinical trials which failed to follow the appropriate ethical criteria, thereby seriously undermining the credibility of viral oncolysis as a valid and legitimate opportunity against cancer.
Discovery of OVIT and Other Oncolytic Viruses
In 1960, scientists at the August Kirchenstien Institute of Microbiology and Virology found that viruses obtained from the intestines of healthy children were able to destroy malignant tumours.
Enteroviruses became the focus of research. Among the viruses tested were Coxsackie A and B viruses and ECHO viruses.
In 1965, a laboratory of cancer virotherapy, the very ﬁrst of its kind, was established in Riga, Latvia. This laboratory was headed by Professor Aina Muceniece with the undertaking of studying enteroviruses and their application as virotherapy agents.
In 1968, the ﬁrst clinical trial in this laboratory focused on the oncolytic ECHO group viruses. It included stage IV patients for whom conventional therapies had not been eﬀective.
The objective of this initial trial was to ﬁnd the optimal tolerated dose, determine the spectrum of cancers sensitive to the viruses and evaluate their epidemiological and clinical safety.
The ECHO-7 group virus was found to have the highest anti-cancer activity.
Not only that, it was found to be non-pathogenic (it was unable to replicate in the normal human body), and epidemiologically safe.
This virus was selected and adapted to melanoma calls and named OVIT, or the “Riga Virus”, named after the city of its discovery.
Two decades later, a clinical study on OVIT was conducted at 3 Riga hospitals that continued over 24 years (1968 – 1992), testing OVIT for its anti-recurrence, anti-metastatic and immunomodulating properties, particularly in relation to melanoma patients.
The trial included 819 cutaneous melanoma, 100 eye melanoma, and 239 gastrointestinal tract cancer patients – mostly stage III and IV. These studies also compared OVIT to standard chemotherapy and radiotherapy with stellar results.
The Mechanism of Viral Oncolysis
A virus (the yellow OVIT virus pictured above) invades a cancer cell, replacing inside of it and then breaking the cancer cell down (cytolysis), resulting in the escape of replicated viruses which then invade other cancer cells.
VIROTHERAPY AS AN ACCREDITED TREATMENT
In 2017, the Integrative Medical Team from VIPCC(SA) were certified and accredited as South Africa’s first and only Virotherapy Practitioners at the International Virotherapy Center in Riga, Latvia.
From left to right : Dmitrijs Kalnins-Bergs (IVC Global Representative), Kristine Jucovika (Director IVC), Dr B Phillips, Ms Trisch Rosema, Dr S W Gunn, Karlis Urbans (IVC Head of Business Development)
OVIT Patent & Approval
Through the years 1990 to 1995, patients with a number of diﬀerent cancers were treated with OVIT at the P. Stradins Clinic and Latvian Oncology Centre in Riga, Latvia.
In 2002, OVIT’s patent was approved, and in 2004 it was registered in the State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia.
Since 2008, OVIT has been available as a prescription medicine in pharmacies Riga, Latvia.
In 2011, it was included in the list of state compensated medicines for patients with cutaneous (skin) melanoma.
Virotherapy & Immunotherapy Protocols Cancer Clinics South Africa are the only accredited prescribing doctors of OVIT in Southern Africa and administer it through Section 21 approval of the Medicine Controls Council to patients.
OVIT is the ﬁrst, non-genetically modiﬁed, non-pathogenic live virus to be registered as a drug and used by oncologists. It uses a two-pronged mechanism to action against cancer: one, it seeks and destroys cancer cells, and, two, it modulates the immune system.
OVIT is well tolerated and has minimal to side eﬀects.
OVIT has completed safety and eﬃcacy clinical trials on almost 2000 cancer patients. It is prescribed by oncologists and stocked in pharmacies in Latvia.
Clinical Tests have proven OVIT’s eﬀectiveness against melanoma, stomach cancer, colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, lung cancer, sarcomas, kidney cancer, and uterine cancer.
OVIT can be adapted to other cancers as well.
Only institutions accredited by the Latvian Virotherapy Centre with speciﬁcally trained physicians can prescribe OVIT.
A SAFE AND EFFECTIVE CANCER THERAPY
Virotherapy is poised to become a leading method of treating cancer because of its powerful mechanism of action.
What makes Virotherapy so unique?
The oncolytic virus used in virotherapy causes death of tumour cells not only by infecting them but also by triggering a normal antiviral immune response.
It is not surprising that a virus can elicit an immune response in the body – our bodies do that every day to ﬁght oﬀ a number of potential infections.
In the case of cancer patients, however, the body’s immune system fails to stop the growth of the tumour. Initially it was believed that cancer cells lacked the appropriate cell surface receptors required to communicate an immune response but scientists today believe that it is not a lack of receptors that is the issue, but the tumour cells’ ability to avoid immune surveillance, blocking the immune reactions targeted towards it.
In the case of OVIT, the virus “re-tunes” or modulates the surface receptors of the cancer cells making them vulnerable once again to cell-disrupting immune mechanisms. Even in cases of cancers where the cancer cell is insensitive to OVIT’s oncotropic and oncolytic eﬀects, the virus can still modulate an immune response, thus making the cells once again vulnerable to the body’s natural defence mechanism.
OVIT, metaphorically speaking, lifts the invisible cloak oﬀ the cancer cells.
Virotherapy not only causes direct damage to the tumour cells, it also removes and restores the cancer cells’ normal antiviral immune response making them susceptible to cytotoxic immune mechanisms.
The ability to more rapidly eliminate cell decay products (the debris caused by dying tumour cells) is also a direct consequence of an activated immune system.
OVIT has also been proven eﬀective where the cancer has progressed to the lymph nodes.
Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) can be considered as an option for the treatment of tumours that are insensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, or which may have developed multi-drug resistance.
It can, however, also used in conjunction with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, assisting in the reduction of the eﬀect of immune suppression of those treatments.
Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) can be applicable both locally and systemically and methodologies have been developed to treat metastatic cancers in addition to localised tumours.
Dr Steven W Gunn, MB.ChB.ALS.BSc
Founder and Chief Medical Officer
Dr Gunn’s passion for Integrative Medicine has taken him from spending many years studying psychology, complementary medicine, nutrition, alternative cancer treatments (e.g. the best German integrative medicine clinics), Chinese traditional medicine, African medicinal herbs, Ayurvedic medicine, homotoxicology, quantum energy medicine, epigenetics, anti-ageing medicine, neurolinguistic programming and psychoneuroimmunology, in addition to orthodox (Conventional) medicine.
ONCOLYTIC VIROTHERAPY WITH OVIT
OVIT is the ﬁrst Oncolytic Virotherapy medicine which has been approved internationally for cancer treatment and that we have introduced into our integrative medical practice in South Africa.
OVIT contains a live non-pathogenic ECHO-7 virus that has not been genetically modiﬁed.
OVIT ﬁnds and infects tumour cells. This process is called oncotropism. Subsequently, OVIT replicates in tumour cells and destroys them. This process is called oncolysis. Both processes, oncotropism and oncolysis, are selective for tumour cells and healthy cells are only minimally aﬀected, if at all. Virotherapy is a type of immunotherapy with immune system boosting activity to raise the body’s natural defenses to ﬁght cancer.
OVIT is administered as a series of injections according to established virotherapy treatment protocols. It is important to consult with a certiﬁed virotherapy specialist to achieve the best possible treatment result.
OVIT is a prescription medicine approved for the treatment of melanoma, local therapy of the skin and subcutaneous metastases of melanoma, and the prevention of relapses of metastases after surgery. In clinical practice OVIT is also used for more than 10 other types of cancers, based on the individual recommendations of physicians.
Cancer virotherapy is a treatment method that is gentle to the body and has minimal side eﬀects, the most common of which is a slightly increased body temperature (up to 37.5°C, 99.5°F) lasting between one and three days.
OVIT clinical studies began in 1968 in Riga, Latvia. More than 700 patients who had been diagnosed with late stage melanoma, stomach and/or gastrointestinal tract cancer were involved in the pre-registration safety and eﬃcacy studies.
Safety was studied in 190 melanoma patients.
Eﬃcacy studies in 540 melanoma patients showed an increase in 3-year survival to 57-84% and increase in 5-year survival to 44-66%. The same study for eye melanoma patients showed 90% and 70% 3-year and 5-year survival, respectively.
Survival rates studied in 160 stomach, rectum and colorectal cancer patients, showed an increase in 3-year survival to 47-60% and 5-year survival to 71-78%.
OVIT was approved by the State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia (European Union) in the 2004 for cutaneous melanoma therapy. Since 2011 OVIT is fully reimbursed by the state for residents of Latvia and since 2015 it has been included in the oﬃcial guidelines for skin cancer and melanoma treatment. In the 2015 OVIT was approved in Georgia and in 2016 in Armenia. In the 2016 the manufacturer of OVIT started a centralized registration process for the rest of European Union.
OVIT is available in Latvia, Georgia and Armenia. Patients and doctors from other countries can obtain this medicine via medical tourism and also from International Virotherapy Center’s certiﬁed doctors and accredited clinics. Virotherapy and Immunotherapy Protocols Cancer Clinics (South Africa) is an accredited prescribing clinic of OVIT
In South Africa, OVIT is administered via Section 21 application to the Medicines Control Council by our Medical Director, Dr Steven W Gunn.
MECHANISM OF ONCOLYTIC VIROTHERAPY
OVIT is an Enterovirus which has some unique characteristics.
Enteroviruses are resident in the gastrointestinal tract and are characterised by a strong resistance to the acidic environment prevalent in the stomach. They are resistant to many detergents and disinfectants and remain stable at room temperature for a long time.
Enteroviruses are present everywhere. Some of their species are pathogenic – such as the polio virus – while others are harmless.
OVIT is part of the type that is characterised by its lack of pathogenicity.
Most enteroviruses use diﬀerent cell surface proteins as receptors and co-receptors. One such receptor is the CD55/DAF-3 factor, which is a regulator of the complement cascade. This binding assists the virus in penetrating the cancer cell membrane.
OVIT’s initial immunomodulating property can also be explained by its engagement of cell surface receptors. Cancer cells develop receptors such as CD55 and CD59 that help them avoid the complement attack from the host immune system. By blocking these receptors, OVIT restores immune response to these cells, making them visible to the body’s defence mechanism.
Once inside the cell, new virion particles are formed in the cytoplasm of the cell using the cytoplasmic RNA to decode the viral proteins and replace the viral RNA.
The oncolytic activity of OVIT was enhanced by several passages through tumour cell lines. The tumour cells undergo degenerative-dystrophic changes (oncolysis) and form hypertrophied nuclei followed by intensive vacuolation of the cells. Signs of cell lysis appear 2 – 7 days after application of OVIT, with some cells showing only bare nuclei.
After repeated courses of OVIT, tumour cells start exhibiting apoptosis (programmed cell death). This is signiﬁcant because tumours develop a strong resistance to apoptosis, resulting in proliferation.
In addition to its oncotropic and oncolytic properties, OVIT shows a profound immunomodulating activity.
OVIT has been shown to activate the immune system at the level of the lymph nodes, lymphoid tissues as well as the immune cells. It stimulates humoral immunity which includes B cells, antibody production, induction of interferon simultaneously with activation of cellular peripheral blood, cytotoxic CD8+,
CD38+,CD95+, and activated T cells are elevated along with apoptosis receptors.
The images below show the activation of these pathways culminating in melanoma cells being surrounded by recruited lymphocytes.
The primary goal of OVIT therapy is to encourage the immune system to ensure tumour rejection. The repeated courses of OVIT are designed to accomplish that goal – of preserving the active stimulation of the immune system.
It has been shown in real patient experiences that repeat application of OVIT results in gradual regression of lymph node micro metastasis and subcutaneous metastasis.
Above : Melanoma Cell Changes Caused By OVIT
(left) Melanoma cells before administration of OVIT
(middle) After several courses of OVIT showing apoptosis of tumor cells
(right) Melanoma cell surrounded by recruited lymphocytes after OVIT injection
(Mucenice A, Venskus D, How to assess immunity – the melanoma model. 2007. p. 116-117).
KNOWN CANCERS SENSITIVE TO VIROTHERAPY
OVIT has been tested extensively against a variety of cancers. The cancers indicated above have been found to demonstrate sensitivity to the virus. The ability of OVIT to address diﬀerent types of cancers can be attributed to the engagement of cell surface receptors by the virus that are common to a variety of cancer cell lines. For cancers not listed, patients can request an evaluation to ensure that OVIT is sensitive to their cancer type.
VIROTHERAPY CLINICAL STUDIES
OVIT has been tested through safety and eﬃcacy clinical studies on more than 2000 patients and is an approved drug in its country of origin.
Clinical Study Groups
The research team in Riga conducted a series of clinical studies on OVIT to measure the safety and eﬃcacy of the product in humans. The results clearly demonstrate the excellent safety proﬁle of the product combined with survival eﬃcacy in a clinical environment that paved the way for the use of OVIT in humans as a registered drug.
The breakdown of the main clinical trial groups is shown below. One set of clinical trials involved a total of 976 patients with diﬀerent forms of cancer
(other than melanoma), who were evaluated for safety of the product. Out of these, 196 patients who had stomach, rectal, colorectal, and lung cancer, were followed for survival.
Another group of 919 OVIT treated melanoma patients (out of which 100 had eye melanoma) were followed separately to study their survival over a period of 3 years.
Safety, Side Eﬀects, and Quality of Life
A total of 976 patients were followed to determine the safety and side eﬀect proﬁle of OVIT.
There was no untoward record of any side eﬀects from the treatment or its discontinuation. The most common side eﬀect noted was a sub-febrile temperature.
In a therapeutic area where severe side eﬀects are a norm and accepted readily by patients and caregivers as inevitable, OVIT presents a new paradigm in safety and eﬃcacy which has resulted in a better quality of life for patients on the treatment.
Eﬃcacy Against Gastrointestinal Tract Cancers
Patients with diﬀerent forms of gastrointestinal cancers (stomach, colon, and rectal) were followed for OVIT eﬃcacy.
Dr Bret Phillips, PhD
Founder and Alternative Health Care Practitioner
Dr Phillips’ experience in Quantum Frequency Medicine brings a unique aspect to his commitment as an Integrative Medicine Healthcare Practitioner. He is also a Digital and Interactive Programs and Software developer as well as a Medical Scientific Research and Developer in Biotechnology and Quantum Nano Technology. Dr Phillips’s ALT-X Scanner is used extensively in our practice, giving our Integrative Medical Team an accurate snapshot of the patient’s body throughout their treatment.
The following observations were made (table1)
1. A group of 21 stage III stomach cancer patients using OVIT demonstrating a 2-fold improvement in their 5 year survival rates (from 24% to 48%)
2. A group of 14 rectal cancer patients showed an improved 5 year survival rate of 71%compared to 58% for control group.
3. A second group of 60 OVIT patients with rectal cancer (stages II, III, and IV) showed a 5 year survival rate of 78% improved from a range of 41%-68% for the control group of rectal cancer patients at the same stage of the disease.
Eﬃcacy Against Melanoma, Including Eye Melanoma
A series of clinical studies (summarised in Table 2) on a total of 919 patients shows that OVIT performed signiﬁcantly better than treating the disease by surgical methods alone.
On the average across the datasets, OVIT outperforms surgery by improving 3 year survival rates by 45%. In other words, 4 out of 5 melanoma patients on OVIT survive for 3 years or more, when only about 1 out of every 2 patents who are treated by surgery alone manage to survive in the same time frame.
Out of every 10 patients with eye melanoma, 9 patients survive for 3 years or more.
One of the most challenging forms of melanoma involve often inoperable scenarios where the cancer spreads through the mucosa.
Even in those cases, 57% of patients on OVIT treatment were able to survive for 3 years or more.
Eﬃcacy of OVIT Against Deeply Invasive Melanomas Compared to Other Immunotherapy
A 5-year survival study was conducted on 102 melanoma patients who received OVIT Virotherapy following excision of the primary tumour. Patients were divided into two groups based on the depth of invasion of the cancer (table 3).
Once again, survival of OVIT treated patients outperformed those receiving other immunotherapy treatment (Corynebacterium parvum, Levamisol, Splenin). For melanoma spread to Clark pT1-3, a 15% improvement in 5 year survival was observed.
When OVIT was used for melanoma patient where the cancer had spread deeper (Clark pT4-5), a more profound impact was observed with survival rates increasing by 82%.
Eﬃcacy of OVIT against Melanomas Spread to Lymph Nodes Compared to Other Immunotherapy
A similar study comparing OVIT with other immunotherapy agents was conducted on patients with and without metastases to the lymph nodes (table 4).
Ms Patricia Rosema
Founder and Alternative Health Care Practitioner
Trisch’s practice as a Bio-Oxidative Practitioner and keen interest in finding alternative treatments, led her to treating our first cancer patient with OVIT.
Her commitment to our patient care is what makes us stand out from the rest.
Following excision of the primary tumour, patients were treated with OVIT or with alternative immunotherapy agents.
Post-Registration Experience in Treatment of Melanoma Patients With OVIT Between 2005 to 2011
The ﬁgure on the top right shows a comparison chart of the Kaplan-Meier estimates for progression-free survival for 80 stage II melanoma patients who have been divided into those receiving and not receiving OVIT. The period of time that they remain(ed) in progression free was also recorded.
The chart clearly outlines the success of OVIT in improving survival rates over the 6 year window of observation.
Another chart (below) shows that OVIT clearly assists in containing progression (and metastasis) in a group of stage II melanoma patients.
In this analysis, only 6 out of 44 (i.e. 13%) patients on OVIT showed progression. In the same time frame, 21 out of 36 (i.e. 58%) of the patients who were not in the OVIT group showed progression.
KAPLAN-MEIER ESTIMATES OF PROGRESSIONFREE
SURVIVAL (STAGE II MELANOMA PATIENTS)
Patients on OVIT treatment were compared to others to evaluate the ability of OVIT to minimize instances of recurrence and progression of disease
OVIT Drastically Reduces Cases of Progression of Disease in Stage II Melanoma Patients.
A total of 44 stage II melanoma patients on OVIT were compared to others (control group). The control group showed much larger populations *21 out of 36) showing progression of disease within approximately 20 months in comparison with only 6 out of 44 on OVIT.
Since cancer adapts rapidly, often developing resistance against chemotherapy drugs and radiation, the ability to sustain the therapeutic eﬀect against cancer is a crucial element that makes a cancer therapy extremely attractive.
Visual Illustration: Melanoma Patient Case Report
A melanoma patient case report is shown here illustrating visually the beneﬁts of OVIT.
The patient presented with melanoma (T4 N2c M0, Breslow 15mm, ulceration) that was diagnosed and excised in April 2004. Subsequently, the patient was treated with Roferon (Interferon-alpha) and subjected to ﬁve additional excisions conducted between January 2006 to September 2007.
TESTIMONIALS OF VIPCC(SA) PATIENTS
“I was diagnosed in March 2017 with 24 Stage IV melanoma lesions. I started OVIT virotherapy in April 2017. In December 2017, my PET scan showed No Evidence of Disease. I continue to use OVIT as a maintenance and preventative measure.”
“After being diagnosed with Stage III Her-2 Positive breast cancer, I was devastated. Then I was told about OVIT by the Integrative Medical Team at VIPCC(SA) and after just three months of OVIT treatment, the tumour had shrunk by more than half.”
WE ANSWER YOUR QUESTIONS
1. Is OVIT a Vaccine?
This is a question we are often asked. While OVIT and vaccines both use viruses or viral materials as vectors, they diﬀer on some key points that are discussed below:
Mechanism of Action: Multimodal vs. Unimodal.
OVIT uses multiple mechanisms to kill cancer cells, while vaccines are typically unimodal. In its ﬁrst mechanism of action, OVIT infects cancer cells directly and breaks them down by oncolysis – cell death happens via a combination of apoptosis, necrosis, pyroptosis, and autophagic cell death. Second, the impact of OVIT on weakening tumour vasculature aﬀects the uninfected cells that die by apoptosis or necrosis. Finally, OVIT kills cancer cells by activating the immune system and tumour speciﬁc immune cells. The induction of the immune system also impacts cancer cells in nodules in the primary site and metastatic locations.
Vaccines work by one mechanism alone: the stimulation of the immune system against a speciﬁc target. Standard vaccines consist of weakened or dead microbes or part of microbes that are able to stimulate the immune system against itself. They are weakened viruses to minimize the risk of infection. The activated immune system preserves a “memory” of the pathogen so that it is ready to respond in future infective events. In that sense, cancer vaccines are not true vaccines but are biological response modiﬁers that work to stimulate and/or restore the ability of the body to ward oﬀ the disease.
Cancer vaccines are of two types: Preventive (prophylactic) cancer vaccines target microbes that are known to cause cancers. For example, Gardasil® and Cervarix ® both approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, protect the body against two types of human papillomavirus (HPV), known to cause approximately 70% of cervical cancers in the world. Another FDA approved vaccine protects the body against Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), known to cause liver cancer. Cancer therapeutic vaccines are designed to treat cancers that are already developed. Cancers are known for their ability to shield themselves from the immune system. A therapeutic vaccine must: a) be able to trigger and immune response against speciﬁc cancer, and b) remove the mechanisms built into the cancer cells designed to evade even a fully functioning immune system. In practice, no eﬀective therapeutic vaccines have been developed so far, since launching an immune response against a growing cancer that can mechanistically avoid the immune system response has proven to be ineﬀective.
Provange® is the only FDA-approved cancer vaccine available today that has shown some results against prostate cancer.
While OVIT can launch an immune response, it combines that property with its ability to unmask the cancer cells, while at the same time, directly infecting the cell. These properties make OVIT a complete, targeted anticancer therapy.
Diﬀerence in Side Eﬀects.
In contrast with vaccines, OVIT demonstrates virtually no side eﬀects. Vaccines, however, have been implicated with numerous side eﬀects that implicate both the active ingredients as well as additives in the preparation.
Commonly used vaccines have the risk of rare but serious side eﬀects such as anaphylactic shock, paralysis, and sudden death.
Vaccines can also trigger autoimmune disorders such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, Guilliain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), and other disorders. In addition to that, vaccines can cause brain inﬂammation (encephalopathy) which can lead to death or permanent brain damage and disorders such as autism,
ADD/ADHD, and other developmental problems. Certain additives such as thimerosal (still present in some vaccines) has been associated speciﬁcally with the development of autism.
OVIT’s Selective Toxicity and Ability to Modulate the Immune System make it a highly attractive choice compared to other conventional options. Other treatment options such as chemotherapy and vaccines compound their limited eﬃcacy with toxic side eﬀects and depression of the immune system, hurting the body’s ability to recover from the treatment, let alone the disease.
Vaccines are also known to block the lymphatic system with large foreign proteins which could lead to cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma.
Other potential side eﬀects that are associated with speciﬁc vaccine includes: shallow breathing connected with sleep apnea and SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), multiple sclerosis, spinal cord inﬂammation, severe allergic reactions (HPV vaccine), intussuspection (intestinal blockage) (Rotavirus vaccine).
Immune System Suppression.
Vaccines suppress the immune system by taking away the opportunity, especially for children, to build up their natural immunity, that is induced in the body by ﬁghting oﬀ infections. The artiﬁcial immunity generated by vaccines weakens the body’s immune response, leaving people more vulnerable to other infections.
OVIT speciﬁcally targets cancer cells and results in activation of the immune system. Risking the consumption of an immunosuppressive modality in an already immune suppressed disease condition is not a good strategy. OVIT ensures that the body’s immune system starts recognising the cancer calls in local and distant metastatic focal points.
2. Is OVIT just another type of chemotherapy?
Chemotherapy is the use of chemical agents that have been shown through preclinical and clinical studies to be toxic to cancer cells. The chemicals used in chemotherapy are typically small molecules that can interfere in a number of ways with a call – for example, covalently binding nucleic acids (DNA, RNA), interfering with the DNA synthesis, enzymatic action – all resulting in the arrest of cellular growth and reproduction. OVIT can be thought of as a bionanotechnology product that delivers a live virus with the capacity of speciﬁcally targeting cancer cells and modulating the immune system to recognise the cancerous cells. As an approved, oncological drug, OVIT should not be confused with alternative medicine. Instead, it ranks as the ﬁrst in a new class of conventional drugs.
Here are some of the key diﬀerences between the two treatment modalities:
Toxic Side Eﬀects.
Chemotherapy has a small therapeutic window where the side eﬀects of the drug quickly overcome the beneﬁts of the treatment. Tolerance to side eﬀects naturally depends on the severity and frequency. The toxicity of chemotherapy drugs is such that it can cause many documented side eﬀects, including death, in signiﬁcant percentages of patients receiving the therapy. Chemotherapy side eﬀects include fatigue, pain, neurotoxicity, sores in mouth and throat, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, appetite loss, constipation, blood disorders, loss of cognitive function, sexual and reproductive issues, hair loss, etc. OVIT has not shown any side eﬀects other than sub-febrile fever and some fatigue.
Immune System Suppression.
Chemotherapy (as well as radiation) cause immune suppression by paralyzing the bone marrow and decreasing the white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. In severe case, complete myelosuppression (destruction of bone marrow stem cells can also occur). OVIT, on the other hand, positively modulates the immune system.
Recurrence of Cancers.
One of the biggest problems for patients treated with chemotherapy is recurrence of cancers – often resistant to chemotherapy. Recent research points to cancer stem cells that stay protected from chemotherapy and regrow into tumours with “intrinsic knowledge” about the chemotherapy agent. OVIT results in superior survival statistics for patients when applied with chemo and radiation or surgery, than when the latter methods are used without OVIT demonstrating its protective eﬀect against recurrence.
Overall, OVIT’s precise selectively and immunological properties lend to a superior therapeutic proﬁle that cannot be rivalled by other existing conventional methods of treatment.
3. How is OVIT Stored?
OVIT must be stored at a temperature below -20°C (-4°F) at all times. Patients can transport the frozen product vials in an insulated container surrounded by dry ice. Most how freezers are capable of sustaining temperatures of -20°C (-4°F).
However, a home refrigerator is subject to temperature variations caused by frequent opening and closing and introduction of food products at higher temperatures. To avoid these issues, we recommend that patients invest in purchasing a small chest freezer that can sustain the needed temperatures.
4. How Much Does OVIT Treatment Cost?
Many factors can inﬂuence the overall cost of the treatment including the length of time as an inpatient, additional treatments, tests, and consultations, and length of OVIT treatment itself. The Admissions team will be happy to discuss the speciﬁc costs of each patient’s treatment prior to signing their patient contract.
5. Given that oncolytic viruses have been known for over 50 years, why is it that it has taken so long for a drug in OVIT’s class to get approved?
Much of OVIT’s history is discussed in the chapter on Cancer Virotherapy. While the normal life cycle of a drug from discovery to approval in recent times is about 10 – 15 years, the research that it takes in developing the concept can precede the discovery by years or even decades. The approval of OVIT must be viewed in the context of the development of the ﬁeld of Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) as a whole. Every drug has a story, so does OVIT.
In the 1960’s, many inspiring results added value to the concepts of oncotropism and oncolysis (ability to seek and destroy cancer cells) as the properties of certain viruses started gaining recognition, and it is only at the turn of the century that it started to get accepted as a serious approach to cancer therapy. Let us discuss why.
First, many potential treatments were developed from viruses with infective potential, e.g., the inﬂuenza virus. In other words, there was always the concern that patients could develop a viral infection from the treatment. Second, viruses can stimulate a virus speciﬁc immune response from the body which can dilute the oncolytic potential of the therapy cells. Third, the multimodal mechanisms of action were very poorly understood, which aﬀected implementation. Fourth, some clinical studies with oncolytic viruses conducted in the 1980’s that did not follow ethical standards seriously undermined the potential of the therapy. Fifth, the failure of therapeutic cancer vaccines and the confusion of their similarity to oncolytic virotherapies inﬂuenced the recognition of Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) as a treatment of an independent standing.
As a result the overall ﬁeld was embraced with trepidation by the international research community for decades.
However, in the same timeframe, an oncology team at the August Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology in Riga, Latvia (at that time, part of the Soviet Union) discovered that the ECHO-7 type of enterovirus showed all the qualities needed for successful Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT). The virus was proven to not cause infection, not replicate in any cells other than cancer cells and it did not stimulate a powerful immune response that hampered the delivery of a signiﬁcant viral
“dose” to the cancer site. It was later understood that this virus could stimulate the immune complement system as well, uncloaking the cancer cells to the body’s immune system. As the scientists embarked on the ﬁnal clinical studies, the entire political scene changed and Latvia regained its independence.
By the mid-90’s, extensive clinical studies had been completed and the eﬃcacy and safety of OVIT was established. In 2004, the product was registered by the State Agency of Medicines of Latvia for administration as an oncolytic drug speciﬁcally against melanoma. Since then, the research has continued, and OVIT’s clinically relevant oncolytic eﬀect against a variety of other cancers continues to be discovered.
6. How Does OVIT Compare With Other Cancer Virotherapies?What Is The Diﬀerence Between Genetically Modiﬁed and Unmodiﬁed Virotherapies?
OVIT is the ﬁrst and only clinically approved, not genetically .modiﬁed, non-pathogenic cancer virotherapy in the world. Protected by patents, OVIT has two extremely important qualities: one, the virus is not genetically modiﬁed, and, second, it is not pathogenic.
Many other well established pharmaceutical and small biotech sector companies are racing to develop cancer virotherapies, but all those products are based on genetically modiﬁed viruses.
For example, Amgen has a product called Talimogene that is in Phase III clinical trials for melanoma. This genetically modiﬁed virus is based on the pathogenic Herpes simplex virus. To our knowledge, eight other companies are attempting to develop an Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) based on genetically modiﬁed viruses. Why is this important? Within our bodies, human cells are outnumbered by microbes in a ratio of 1:10. While microbes (including viruses) are better known for their pathogenic properties, they play an integral role in maintaining balance. The ability of viruses of aﬀecting oncolytic damage speciﬁcally to cancer cells is an example of that natural process. To this day, none of the isolated, natural, unmodiﬁed viruses have been as capable of sustaining oncolytic and immunomodulating activity without pathogenic consequences as OVIT. This has required pharma and biotech companies to look for genetic modiﬁcations, hence damaging the perfection of nature.
It is clear that OVIT has been able to capture a unique niche in the cancer virotherapy product spectrum. By harnessing the power of a live, non-pathogenic, naturally occurring virus, OVIT makes the best of nature’s exquisite complexity.
7. Does OVIT Work on Cancers Not Listed in This Document or as a Pure Immunotherapeutic Product?
OVIT is designed as a cancer virotherapy drug and claims can only be made against cancers that have undergone rigorous clinical tests in the facilities of the Latvian Virotherapy Centre. It should be noted that OVIT is registered as an immunomodulator. OVIT can modulate the immune system by eliciting both an adaptive immune response and a complement system reactivation through a process that appears to be common for many cancers. This common mechanism of action may allow for uses that are much broader in impact than we currently know.
For patients, we recommend that they speak with the Admissions Team to determine their eligibility for OVIT.
8. Does OVIT Work with Chemotherapy, Radiation and/or Surgery?
Yes, it can. This question comes up often for patients who are already committed to a conventional treatment plan, but are aware of the limitations of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery as treatment methods and are looking to overcome them. While OVIT is a standalone therapy in its own right, it has been shown to be very powerful adjuvant therapy when used with other conventional measures. OVIT can be given before and after surgery and staged to be given alongside chemotherapy and radiation. Besides its synergistic oncolytic eﬀect, OVIT assists in preventing metastatic spread. Most importantly, OVIT can reverse the immunosuppressive conditions caused by conventional therapies. Immunosuppression makes patients susceptible to other diseases, prone to cancer recurrence and greatly impacts quality of life during and after treatment.
9. Is OVIT Available in South Africa? How can a Patient get OVIT?
OVIT is only available in South Africa when prescribed by our accredited and certiﬁed OVIT Prescribing Doctor, Dr Steven Gunn Mb Chb.
It is not yet registered in this country, however, we have special approval through the Application of Section 21 of the Medicines Control Council to prescribe and administer OVIT.
10. Do Patients Need to Visit VIPCC (SA) for OVIT treatment?
Yes. Our Integrative Medical Team must assess the patient and formulate the correct protocol for the individual’s immune system. We manage our patients on a 3-month OVIT treatment schedule, often combining the Oncolytic Viro-Immuno Therapy (OVIT) with alternative and complementary therapies.
11. As a Doctor Treating Cancer Patient, How Can I Prescribe OVIT?
You cannot prescribe, but you can most deﬁnitely refer. Many physicians look for new and eﬀective ways to help patients overcome the frustration of ineﬀective cancer therapies or simply look for ways to synergise the good work that they have already done.
If you are one of them, please contact us to discuss ways in which you can refer patients to us for their treatment. We are happy to establish special, ongoing relationships with physicians who would like to work with us on an extended basis to strategize therapies fo their patients.
OVIT – Producer and Intellectual Property Rights is owned by La ma, SIA.
OVIT has been registered in Latvia since 2004 and is used throughout the world by authorized medical companies.
VIPCC(SA) is the sole distributor of OVIT in South Africa and is administered under Sec on 21 Applica on by Dr S W Gunn to the Medicines Control Council.
Copyright© 2018 of this document by the Authors, Drs S W Gunn, B Phillips, P Rosema and VIPCC(SA). All rights reserved.