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바이로큐어, 항암바이러스 ‘리오’&‘믹소마’ 글로벌 목표 - 바이오스펙테이터

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바이로큐어, 항암바이러스 ‘리오’&‘믹소마’ 글로벌 목표

입력 2021-02-18 09:32 수정 2021-04-16 10:48

바이오스펙테이터 노신영 기자

이 기사는 '프리미엄 뉴스서비스 BioS+' 기사입니다.
“독자적인 항암바이러스 플랫폼과 치료제 개발역량 보유”.. 바이로큐어의 항암바이러스 파이프라인은?

항암바이러스(Oncolytic Virus, O/V)란 암세포 특이적인 감염을 통해 항암효과를 보이는 바이러스를 의미한다. 암젠(Amgen)의 '임리직(Imlygic)'이 2015년 최초의 흑색종 치료제로 미국 식품의약국(FDA) 승인을 받으며 항암바이러스 치료제의 첫 신호탄을 쏘아 올렸다. J&J, 머크(MSD), 애브비(Abbvie), 베링거인겔하임 등 글로벌 빅파마들이 항암바이러스 연구에 매진하고 있지만 임리직 이후 FDA 문턱을 넘은 항암바이러스는 아직 나오지 않고 있다. 과연 두번째 항암바이러스 치료제 타이틀을 가져갈 회사는 누가 될 것인가, 지금, 글로벌시장에서 항암바이러스에 대한 개발 열기는 뜨겁다.

바이로큐어㈜(ViroCure Inc.)는 2016년에 설립된 국내 항암바이러스 신약개발 전문 벤처기업이다. 리오바이러스(Reovirus), 믹소마 폭스바이러스(Myxoma poxvirus), 다람쥐 폭스바이러스(Squirrel poxvirus)와 같은 인체에 '안전한 바이러스'를 통해 다양한 항암치료제 개발을 진행하고 있다. 이들 바이러스는 사람에게 감염이 가능하지만 독성을 나타내지 않으며 암세포만 선택적으로 감염시키는 숙주 특이성을 갖고 있다.

리오바이러스의 경우, 특히, 종양억제유전자(Tumor Suppressor Gene) 돌연변이가 유발한 암세포내에서 증식이 많이 일어나며, 결과적으로 리오바이러스의 암세포 특이적 감염성은 암세포의 세포용해(lysis)를 통한 사멸을 유도하게 된다. 이는 종양억제유전자의 변이에 의해 세포의 항바이러스 면역체계가 약화된 환경이 항암바이러스의 생존에 영향을 끼치기 때문으로 밝혀졌다.

현재의 항암요법은 면역관문억제제(IC)를 사용하는 면역요법이 주로 사용되고 있지만, 이러한 치료제가 단독으로 사용될 경우 낮은 반응률로 인해 항암효과가 떨어진다는 문제가 있다. 때문에 이러한 단일 항암치료제의 반응률을 높이고자 다양한 병용 치료제들이 활발하게 개발되고 있다. 이와 동시에 항암제에 반응을 보이지 않는 ‘cold tumor’를 항암제 민감성을 높인 ‘hot tumor’로 바꾸고자 하는 기조가 현재 항암제 개발 회사들의 주요 개발 프레임이 되었다. 항암바이러스 연구 역시 마찬가지다....

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