Treatment of Merkel Cell Carcinoma

The treatment of many cancer types can vary quite widely. Different cancers and stages denote slightly different methods of treatment. While the early stages of some cancers – especially skin cancer – can sometimes require only minor surgery, others can require highly damaging doses of radiation and chemotherapy. With immunotherapy, companies like OncoSec are hoping to increase the number of available cancer treatments that are less damaging to the body. One specific cancer that we’re targeting is Merkel cell carcinoma.

As we’ve written about in several other blogs posts, Merkel cell carcinoma is an under-researched type of cancer. It is also a difficult cancer to diagnose, as symptoms often appear similar to mild skin conditions. In terms of visible symptoms, it is generally much easier to spot melanoma; as changes in the size, shape and color of moles is often a strong indication. It is because of this that Merkel cell carcinoma is quite often not detected until a later stage. This should be a wake-up call to those who are regularly exposed to heavy sunlight to receive regular – at least annual – skin exams, by their dermatologist or doctor.

With no approved treatment option that specializes in treating Merkel cell carcinoma, radiation and chemotherapy are often used. Similar to other skin cancers – and most cancers in general – Merkel cell carcinoma is much easier to treat, when detected in its early stages. However, as mentioned, this happens far too seldom, due to challenges in diagnosis. Merkel cell carcinoma also has around a 60% 5-year survival rate overall; making it one of the deadliest skin cancers. Even this number can be a bit misleading, as radiation and chemotherapy have demonstrated very little effectiveness in having a lasting effect on Merkel cell carcinoma cases that have spread inside of the body.

Merkel Cell Carcinoma
MCC can appear like a simple skin irritation.

These dangerous factors surrounding Merkel cell carcinoma inform our reasoning around specializing in such a disease. OncoSec believes this type of skin cancer requires much more research and study, if we are going to effectively treat the disease in a meaningful manner. Using immunotherapy techniques and our electroporation system, we are working on an alternative treatment method that aims at using the body’s immune system to fight the Merkel cell carcinoma, without invasive measures like radiation and chemotherapy. Our ImmunoPulse method has been created, with the intention of fighting late-stage cancers, including Merkel cell carcinoma, cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, and metastatic melanoma.

Studies for our proposed alternative treatment method of Merkel cell carcinoma are still ongoing. Our clinical trial for this study is current accepting patients. If someone close to you has been diagnosed with this aggressive disease, please share our clinical trial information with him or her. Together, we can work on creating a novel treatment method that shows positive results, while minimising the stress on patients.

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