The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson is in pursuit to acquire a company that is looking to combat one of the world's most deadliest diseases: cancer. The announcement that Johnson & Johnson would pay up to a $1 billion for this company was made on May 2. However, they aren't the only ones.
Merck, a company located in Kenilworth, New Jersey, has also put in a bid for $394 million to obtain an Australian firm that was working on a cancer-killing or "oncolytic" virus in February. In April, at the International Oncolytic Virus Conference in Oxford, UK, over 300 people were in attendance.
For the researchers behind the virus, it shows promise that more companies are beginning to support the idea that could potentially save lives. There are some that are still very cautious about the new findings from this particular virus.
Cancer is described as a group of diseases that involve abnormal cell growth that has the potential to spread to other parts of the body.
Researchers have been trying to create some form of cancer-fighting virus for decades. Many have tried to use centuries-old observations that people who would go into remission after contracting another type of virus. One virus that has been created so far, talimogene laherparepvec (Imlygic), is a modified version of herpes that was used to treat some forms of melanoma.
Imlygic was approved by the 2015 U.S. Food And Drug Administration and was the first virus to win support in the U.S. market.
Jean-Simon Diallo, a molecular biologist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, credits this as the reason more companies are supporting this new venture. Another reason more companies are eager to obtain this new treatment is the progress seen mainly on animal trials, where a virus may work better if it is given with checkpoint inhibitors, which are other therapies that boost immune system.
Could This Be The Cure?
Majority of the trials that conducted testing this new theory have fallen short of promise, including Imlygic. Some inhibitors can send certain cancers into remission but only for a fraction of the people.
In a smaller trial done that consisted of 21 people who had advanced melanoma, Imlygic was combined with another checkpoint called pembrolizumab, which resulted in shrunken tumors among 62 percent of the participants and completely wiped out in 33 percent of other cases.
For the researchers who mixed the checkpoint inhibitors with other treatments, they were left with mixed results. Researchers still remain optimistic.