The advent of oncolytic virotherapy in oncology: The Rigvir® story

Eur J Pharmacol. 2018 Oct 15:837:117-126. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2018.08.042. Epub 2018 Sep 1.


Oncolytic viruses are a fast-developing cancer treatment field. Numerous viruses have been tested in clinical trials and three are approved. The first, Rigvir, is an immunomodulator with anti-tumour effect for treatment of melanoma, local treatment of skin and subcutaneous metastases of melanoma, for prevention of relapse and metastasis after radical surgery registered in Latvia, Georgia, Armenia and Uzbekistan. The aim of the present review is to summarize the development of Rigvir. Approximately 60 viruses were screened preclinically. Clinical safety and efficacy trials were with 5 oncolytic enteroviruses. Safety of the selected and melanoma-adapted ECHO-7 virus Rigvir was tested in over 180 patients with no severe adverse events observed. Pre-registration efficacy studies involved over 700 cancer patients: over 540 melanoma patients, and patients with late stage stomach (ca. 90), colorectal cancer (ca. 60), and other cancers. Patients were treated with Rigvir for 3 years after surgery and compared to immunotherapy: 3- and 5-year overall survival appeared to be increased in Rigvir treated patients. In post-marketing retrospective studies, Rigvir-treated stage II melanoma patients showed a 6.67-fold decreased risk for disease progression in comparison to those that had been observed according to guidelines, and stage IB and stage II melanoma patients that had received Rigvir therapy had 4.39-6.57-fold lower mortality. The results are confirmed and extended by case reports. Several immunological markers have been measured. In conclusion, Rigvir is an oncotropic and oncolytic virus for treatment of melanoma; the results will be confirmed and updated by modern clinical studies.

Keywords: ECHO-7 virus; Melanoma; Oncolytic; Oncotropism; Rigvir; Virotherapy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Evaluation, Preclinical
  • Enterovirus B, Human
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Factors / therapeutic use
  • Melanoma / mortality
  • Melanoma / therapy*
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / adverse effects
  • Oncolytic Virotherapy / methods*


  • Immunologic Factors