Investigational vaccine aids patients with metastatic prostate cancer

Nancy Ferrari

Senior editor, Harvard Health

A new prostate cancer vaccine may give hope to men with metastatic prostate cancer by spurring their immune systems to fight the disease, according to a presentation by Iowa researchers at the American Urological Association’s annual meeting in May 2008. Enabling a patient’s immune system to attack cancer cells can improve quality of life and extend survival.

Their phase I clinical trial of the adenovirus/PSA vaccine included 32 men with metastatic prostate cancer who received a single injection of the vaccine. At least 40% of the men developed an immune response to PSA. PSA doubling time, a measure of the aggressiveness of the disease, increased in 48% of participants. And 57% of the participants lived longer than predicted by standard nomograms. The longest surviving patient lived almost six years after receiving the vaccine.

Encouraged by the findings, researchers received FDA approval to conduct a larger phase II clinical trial to collect more data. This is just one of several studies indicating that modulation of the immune system may hold promise in the treatment of prostate cancer.

SOURCE: Lubaroff DM, Konety BR, Link BK, et al. Outcomes from a Phase I Trial of an Adenovirus/PSA Vaccine for Prostate Cancer. The Journal of Urology 2008;179(Suppl):184, abstract 526.

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