Clinical studies of oncolytic viruses in Latvia started in 60s of the 20th century under the lead of outstanding Latvian scientist prof. Aina Muceniece.
August Kirchenstein Institute of Microbiology and Virology (Latvian Academy of Sciences) discovers that viruses, obtained from small children intestines, are capable of destroying human tumours inoculated in hamsters (heterotransplant of human angiosarcoma into Golden hamsters' cheek pouches).
Cancer Virotherapy Laboratory was organised in the Institute under the lead of Aina Muceniece to study this phenomenon further. 60 different enterovirus types are being studied and 5 most effective cancer cell destroyers are obtained. One of them was named Riga virus. Harmlessness and inability to replicate in adult human body of Riga virus is established.
The Ministry of Health Protection granted an approval to use oncolytic virus for cancer patients in the 2nd department of Republic's Oncology Hospital and the 18th Chemotherapy department of Pauls Stradins Republic Clinical Hospital (Department heads - I. Priedīte, I. Kundziņa). Order No. 220a/20 by Latvian Soviet Health Ministry on 25 April 1968 "On clinical approbation of enteroviruses for oncology patients, mostly with malignant gastrointestinal tract tumours". 415 patients were included in the study. Harmlessness and also epidemiological safety of Riga virus for patients is proved.
Virus adaptation (habituation) in skin melanoma tissues is started, because the cells of this particular tumour are insensitive to radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Adaptation in melanoma is successful and therapeutic effect of Riga virus adapted in melanoma has been established.
Positive feedback was received from the Scientific Council of the All-Union Cancer Research Centre (Moscow) regarding a broader clinical study of Riga virus in treatment of melanoma patients and patients with other oncology diseases. Immunotherapy specialists are included in staff of Latvian oncology hospitals. 3 hospitals from Riga participated in clinical trials: LOC (former Republic's Oncology Hospital), P. Stradins Clinical Hospital, AML/RSU Institute of Stomatology and Saratov Oncology Hospital (Russia). 1063 patients in total have participated in clinical trials.
In 1985 Augusts Kirhensteins Institute of Microbiology (of USSR) elaborated guidelines for clinical study of immunomodulatory anti-reoccurrence, anti-metastatic properties of the virus in melanoma patients regarding surgical treatment and chemotherapy.
With permission by the Soviet Union Pharmacology Committee the clinical studies are taking place also in All-Union Cancer Research Centre in Moscow and Saratov Oncology Hospital, where harmlessness of Riga virus has been established also in very severe cases and terminal patients.
Cancer Virotherapy Laboratory of the Institute of Microbiology of the Latvian Academy of Sciences has organised meetings where theses' materials were presented. Such meetings were organised also in 1969 and 1977.
1990 - 1995
Various cancer patients in P. Stradins Hospital and Latvian Oncology Centre were treated with Riga virus.
20 October 2002
Invention rights to Riga virus are established by receiving a patent.
29 April 2004
Riga virus is registered in the State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia, becoming the first clinically approved medicinal product of oncolytic virotherapy.
27 March 2008
Leading Latvian scientists, oncologists and immunology specialists established Latvian Virotherapy Center to develop virotherapy in Latvia and in the world. Later it was renamed as the International Virotherapy Center with a mission to provide virotherapy globally for each cancer patient who needs it.
Oncolytic virotherapy with Riga virus is included in the list of reimbursable state-funded medical products in Latvia for skin melanoma patients.
Oncolytic virotherapy is included in clinical guidelines of the National Health Service of Latvia "Diagnostics, treatment and dynamic observation of skin cancer and melanoma".
Oncolytic virotherapy with Riga virus is approved in Georgia.
Oncolytic virotherapy with Riga virus is approved in Armenia.
The first cancer virotherapy excellence centre, Global Virotherapy Cancer Clinic, is opened.
Oncolytic virus manufacturer receives a grant from the European Commission programme "Horizon 2020", sub-programme "Aid for biotechnologies to promote new product sales in European market" aiming at registering the medicinal product in the European Union market (EMEA).
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