Cancer Research Goes Viral With New Drug Imlygic

The FDA just approved a virus as a cancer treatment. Here’s why it matters

Oct 30, 2015 at 4:39 PM ET

Imlygic is the first of its kind, but it isn’t the most impressive cancer drug on the market. It shrinks only about 16 percent of tumors and extends patients’ lives by barely four months. When the FDA approved Imlygic on Tuesday, however, the treatment made headlines because it isn’t a chemical—it’s a virus, genetically modified to seek out tumors and destroy them, while putting the body’s own immune defenses on high alert.

It’s a new horizon for cancer research, and could give researchers within the field of oncolytic viral therapy the kind of push they need to get even more innovative and life-saving treatments off the ground. Here’s why Imlygic matters: