New Viral Therapy Cancer Treatment Improves Survival Rates and Makes Everyone Smile
A diagnosis of cancer can instill fear, anxiety and a sense of helplessness and hopelessness in those affected including friends and family. It’s a diagnosis that can take one’s breath away. I remember hearing the news that my grandmother who raised me, had cancer. The initial reaction was mind-numbing terror, shock, and simply wanting to flee. All I knew at the time was that cancer was a death sentence.
Unfortunately, 40 years later, little has changed with regard to survival rates even with “modern advances”. What was recommended then – surgery, placement of a feeding tube, chemotherapy, and radiation is still the gold standard of care today. New drugs have been developed, new types of treatments are used, and yet the long-term survival rate remains an abysmal 2.1% overall.
But there is hope and it was a serendipitous discovery in 1960 of the oncolytic properties of enterovirus by Dr. Aina Muceniece, a Latvian scientist, immunologist, and Emeritus Scientist that led to the use of a virus with minimal and manageable mild side effects in the treatment of cancer. The virus which was named Riga after the Latvian city of Riga, was tested in phase1, 2 and 3 trials. The drug containing the Riga virus is called RIGVIR.
RIGVIR contains live, natural Riga virus, a non-pathogenic, non-mutating enterovirus which was found to have immunomodulating and cytolytic or cancer destroying effects. The action of the virus is to enter and destroy the cancer cell, however, because it only enters abnormal cancer cells, there are only short term effects such as sub febrile (low) temperature, pain in the tumor, fatigue, drowsiness and dyspepsia (diarrhea). Unlike use of chemotherapy, with RIGVIR healthy tissues are not affected or damaged, and cancers are unable to become resistant. Regarding immunomodulation, because of its structure RIGVIR selectively enters and affects cells in sensitive tumors and makes them detectable by the T-cells and B-cells in the immune system which then mount an immune response. The Riga virus is not genetically modified (GM) and is not pathogenic, nor is it able to replicate in the human body. It is issued in oncology for the prevention of secondary immunodeficiency. Another benefit of RIGVIR if that the drug targets and kills cancer stem cells so the cancer does not recur or metastasize.
Dr. Ivars Kalvins, PH.D, scientist, inventor and Director of the Latvian Institute of Organic Synthesis, led the team of researchers who completed the work of Dr. Muceniece. He is 1 of 3 finalists for the European Medicine Award (2015) and is a distinguished member of the European Academy of Science. Dr. Kalvins holds 215 patents and has authored over 650 publications. [1,5]
With a smile on his face, Dr. Kalvins explained, “There is only one medicine in the world that uses a live virus to treat cancer.”
In 2015 RIGVIR was registered in Georgia and included in the Latvian national guidelines for skin cancer and melanoma treatment. According to Dr. Elitn Shapovalora, M.D., “Success rates in early stage melanoma are 90% while in late stage the survival rate is 60%. These rates are significantly higher than the typical survival rate of 9% if treated with conventional therapy.” Melanoma is considered the deadliest type of skin cancer.
While the official clinical use of RIGVIR is in the treatment of malignant melanoma, according to Dr. Kalvins, “RIGVIR has been effective in 10 other cancers including: melanoma, lung, renal, pancreatic, breast, uterine, bladder, stomach, prostate and several kinds of sarcomas.”  Patients from 40 countries have received the treatment. “Cancer virotherapy is one of the most promising modern cancer therapy methods. Therefore, the leading countries in the development of pharmaceutical products have largely involved in virological researches with the aim of finding the most effective and safest viruses with the ability to selectively destroy malignant cells. Nobody doubts any more that viruses are able to do it. Just like nobody doubts any more that Latvia, through RIGVIR has become the leader and, at the same time, the pioneer in virotherapy. The only question is – how much time will it take until some other viral anticancer medicines will join RIGVIR. Clearer and stronger with every day, virotherapy is claimed around the world as one of the firm primary therapy types, that can be more effective, safer, and patient-caring than the cancer treatment methods known until now. I will do everything that depends on me in order to develop virotherapy and help many cancer patients around the world, who have deserved such humane and effective treatment long ago.” 
Oncolytic virotherapy in the world is coordinated by the International Virotherapy Center (IVC) in Latvia. The mission of the IVC is to provide virotherapy treatment to every cancer patient who needs it. The main objectives of the IVC are training and certification of doctors, accreditation of medical institutions and coordination of international service of patients.
The cost of the RIGVIR in Georgia where is has been approved is about 1050 Lari which is about $444 USD. Rigvir® is delivered as an intramuscular injection. For those in the US, the nearest treatment center is the Hope 4 Cancer Institute in Tijuana, Mexico.