Cover image

Are you searching for ways to fully
recover from any stage of cancer?
All the info you need is here.

This is the only Irish website that
provides detailed information
on all proven cancer treatments.

You are here: Home » Tests and Treatments » Oncolytic Virotherapy

Oncolytic Virotherapy

Oncolytic Virotherapy

The following is from the website of the National Cancer Institute

Treatment using an oncolytic virus (a virus that infects and breaks down cancer cells but not normal cells ). Oncolytic virotherapy may make it easier to kill tumor cells with chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is a type of targeted therapy. Also called oncolytic virus therapy, viral therapy, and virotherapy.

What is oncolytic virus therapy?
Oncolytic virus therapy is an experimental form of biological therapy that involves the direct destruction of cancer cells. Oncolytic viruses infect both cancer and normal cells, but they have little effect on normal cells. In contrast, they readily replicate, or reproduce, inside cancer cells and ultimately cause the cancer cells to die.

Some viruses, such as reovirus, Newcastle disease virus, and mumps virus, are naturally oncolytic, whereas others, including measles virus, adenovirus, and vaccinia virus, can be adapted or modified to replicate efficiently only in cancer cells. In addition, oncolytic viruses can be genetically engineered to preferentially infect and replicate in cancer cells that produce a specific cancer-associated antigen, such as EGFR or HER-2.

One of the challenges in using oncolytic viruses is that they may themselves be destroyed by the patient’s immune system before they have a chance to attack the cancer. Researchers have developed several strategies to overcome this challenge, such as administering a combination of immune-suppressing chemotherapy drugs like cyclophosphamide along with the virus or “cloaking” the virus within a protective envelope. But an immune reaction in the patient may actually have benefits: although it may hamper oncolytic virus therapy at the time of viral delivery, it may enhance cancer cell destruction after the virus has infected the tumor cells.

No oncolytic virus has been approved for use in the United States, although H101, a modified form of adenovirus, was approved in China in 2006 for the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. Several oncolytic viruses are currently being tested in clinical trials. Researchers are also investigating whether oncolytic viruses can be combined with other types of cancer therapies or can be used to sensitize patients’ tumors to additional therapy.

Virotherapy can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma.


ROCHESTER, Minn. — May 14, 2014 — In a proof of principle clinical trial, Mayo Clinic researchers have demonstrated that virotherapy — destroying cancer with a virus that infects and kills cancer cells but spares normal tissues — can be effective against the deadly cancer multiple myeloma. The findings appear in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Two patients in the study received a single intravenous dose of an engineered measles virus (MV-NIS) that is selectively toxic to myeloma plasma cells. Both patients responded, showing reduction of both bone marrow cancer and myeloma protein. One patient, a 49-year-old woman, experienced complete remission of myeloma and has been clear of the disease for over six months.

“This is the first study to establish the feasibility of systemic oncolytic virotherapy for disseminated cancer,” says Stephen Russell, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic hematologist, first author of the paper and co-developer of the therapy. “These patients were not responsive to other therapies and had experienced several recurrences of their disease.”

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells in the bone marrow, which also causes skeletal or soft tissue tumors. This cancer usually responds to immune system-stimulating drugs, but eventually overcomes them and is rarely cured.

In their article, the researchers explain they were reporting on these two patients because they were the first two studied at the highest possible dose, had limited previous exposure to measles, and therefore fewer antibodies to the virus, and essentially had no remaining treatment options.

Oncolytic virotherapy – using re-engineered viruses to fight cancer – has a history dating back to the 1950s. Thousands of cancer patients have been treated with oncolytic viruses from many different virus families (herpesviruses, poxviruses, common cold viruses, etc.). However, this study provides the first well-documented case of a patient with disseminated cancer having a complete remission at all disease sites after virus administration.

The second patient in the paper, whose cancer did not respond as well to the virus treatment, was equally remarkable because her imaging studies provided a clear proof that the intravenously administered virus specifically targeted the sites of tumor growth. This was done using high-tech imaging studies, which were possible only because the virus had been engineered with a ‘snitch gene’ — an easily identifiable marker — so researchers could accurately determine its location in the body.

RIGVIR® – An approved Virotherapy for Cancer

Source: International Virotherapy Center

RIGVIR®  is the world’s first approved oncolytic virotherapy medicine for the treatment of melanoma, local therapy of skin and subcutaneous metastases of melanoma, prevention of relapse and metastases after surgery.

In clinical practice RIGVIR® is used for the treatment of melanoma, cancers of stomach, colorectum, pancreas, kidney, uterus, bladder, lung, prostate and several types of sarcoma.

RIGVIR® is a live, adapted, non-pathogenic and not genetically modified virus. The vial does not contain antibiotics, stimulants, potentially toxic substances.

RIGVIR® is administered intramuscularly according to personalized treatment protocols. Virotherapy is usually ambulatory and has mild if any side effects. It is important to consult a certified virotherapy specialist to achieve the best possible result.

RIGVIR® was approved in Latvia (an EU member state) in 2004 for cutaneous melanoma therapy.

Scientific evidence

This Study concluded:
Rigvir significantly prolongs survival in early-stage melanoma patients without any side effect.

Virotherapy is recognized as safe and effective cancer treatment.

Virotherapy effectiveness has been proven in many clinical studies. For example, in 2015, the medical journal Melanoma Research published a study that revealed that melanoma patients treated with virotherapy were 4 to 6 times more likely to survive than those, who did not receive virotherapy.

The study concluded:
Rigvir significantly prolongs survival in early-stage melanoma patients without any side effect.

Breast cancer

This 2020 study says:
The development of new oncolytic virus for the treatment of breast cancer includes new viral vectors targeting tumour cells with high affinity without perturbating normal cells, improving immune system activity against cancer, reducing adverse events and ensuring safety. In particular, in breast cancer, novel reovirus, vaccinia virus and HSV are been developing. Among these, vaccinia virus is considered to be very promising candidate, due to its transfection capacity, easy manipulation, good safety profile and inability to integrate into the host genome.


This 2015 study says:
Taken together, the results suggest that a significant number of melanoma patients would benefit from prolonging the survival with Rigvir treatment. There sults also show that this can be achieved without side effects. Results suggest that Rigvir could also be tested inthe treatment of other types of cancer. Conclusion Rigvir is an oncolytic, non pathogenic ECHO-7 virus that significantly prolongs survival in early-stage melanoma patients without any side effect.

This 2020 case study concluded:
The present patient was diagnosed over 9.4 years ago. After several recurrences and progression episodes, stabilization of the disease has been observed since June 2015, for over 70 months during virotherapy treatment. The present case suggests that ECHO-7 virotherapy is an effective treatment for cutaneous melanoma.

This 2020 case study concluded:
Considering the rarity of adrenal gland melanoma, there is no standard treatment. The present patient experienced a disease progression after 2 months of interferon alfa-2a therapy and that treatment was discontinued. Subsequently, the patient started oncolytic virotherapy with Rigvir. Since then, disease progression has slowed down and the patient has been stable for 5 years. No adverse events have been reported by the patient.

This study says:
In conclusion, Rigvir significantly prolongs survival in early-stage melanoma patients without any side effect.

This study says:
Rigvir significantly improves 3-year and 5-year survival of melanoma and cancer rectum patients.

This 2016 study says:
Using current standard treatments, the survival of patients with the present diagnoses is low. In contrast, the patients described here were diagnosed 3.5, 7.0, and 6.6 years ago, and their condition has improved and been stabile for over 1.5, 6.5, and 4 years, respectively. These observations suggest that virotherapy using Rigvir can successfully be used in long‐term treatment of patients with melanoma stage IV M1c, small cell lung cancer stage IIIA, and histiocytic sarcoma stage IV…

This 2017 study concludes:
The results suggest that Rigvir® in vitro reduces the viability of cells of human melanoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, gastric adenocarcinoma, lung carcinoma, pancreas adenocarcinoma …The present results suggest that the effect of Rigvir® could be tested in other cancers besides melanoma.

This study says:
These observations suggest that virotherapy using Rigvir can successfully be used in long‐term treatment of patients with melanoma stage IV M1c, small cell lung cancer stage IIIA, and histiocytic sarcoma stage IV and therefore could be included in prospective clinical studies.

This 2018 study says:
It has been previously suggested that Rigvir® improves the overall survival in patients with stage IB–IIC melanoma. The present report describes a melanoma unknown primary brain metastasis patient treated with Rigvir® virotherapy. There are limited options to treat brain metastasis because of the brain–blood barrier. The present patient has been stabilized following Rigvir® virotherapy, suggesting that the oncolytic virus Rigvir® might have reached the brain metastasis.

Case report (2018):
In this report, we describe a female patient with unknown primary melanoma brain metastasis treated with the oncolytic ECHO-7 virus Rigvir® after brain surgery. The patient has been stable, as monitored by magnetic resonance imaging, for more than 3.8 years with ongoing therapy. The median expected overall survival from the time of diagnosis is approximately 5 months.

Potential side-effects

RIGVIR® contains an adapted live enterovirus, which is oncotropic and oncolytic, non-pathogenic and non-genetically modified. RIGVIR® does not contain antibiotics, stimulants or potentially toxic substances.
RIGVIR® demonstrates an outstanding safety profile. More than 700 patients participated in RIGVIR® clinical studies. No serious adverse effects were recorded, and the most common side effect was a subfebrile temperature.

Not unlike other medicines, RIGVIR® may cause side effects. These potential side effects are short-term and do not require treatment. The most common side effect is a subfebrile temperature lasting 1-3 days.

Source: Rigvir Group

Where can I get this treatment and more information?

The nearest clinic for patients in Ireland and the UK is in Germany:

Marinus Klinik
Responsible specialist: Dr. Axel Weber

Language for communication: DE, ENG
Address: Biberstraße 30, 83098 Brannenburg, Germany
Tel.: +49 8034 9080 Fax: +49 8034 90 82 99

Global Virotherapy Cancer Clinic (Latvia)
Language for communication: ENG, RUS, LAT
Address: 12 Jauna iela, Jurmala, Latvia, LV-2015
Phone: +371 67 229 522

Hope 4 Cancer Institute – Exclusive partner in Mexico


See also Cancer Virotherapy

See Facebook page Rigvir Virotherapy Cancer Treatment Support and Information


1. Some cancer therapies can conflict with others. Do not start ANY therapy without consulting your doctor to ensure it’s safe and beneficial to do so.
2. Just because any given therapy worked for someone else does not necessarily mean it will work for you.
3. Although there are many viable alternative cancer treatments, there isn’t a “best” treatment for a certain type or stage of cancer.

Please share this page to help others