Vaccine Therapy for Prostate Cancer:
Following the Recipe Is Important
Drake: "Significant anti-tumor effects." Scientists studying many forms of cancer believe that cancer vaccines – which boost the body's immune system so that it can lead a "home front" strike against cancer cells – hold great promise. GVAX Prostate is a cell-based vaccine, originally developed at Johns Hopkins, that may help the body target and kill prostate cancer cells. By itself, it is not enough to vanquish metastatic prostate cancer; thus, scientists have been studying ways to combine it with other forms of immune-based therapy to create a multi-pronged attack. Recently, Ipilimumab, a drug that blocks a particular checkpoint in the immune system, called CTLA-4, was approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic melanoma. This CTLA-4 blocker (anti-CTLA-4) "has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer effects in some patients with melanoma, and to decrease PSA in some late-stage prostate cancer patients," says Charles Drake, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of oncology, immunology and urology.
In other news, Drake and colleagues have developed a mouse model of prostate inflammation that promises to be of great help to scientists studying benign enlargement of the prostate (BPH) and prostatitis. "This could turn out to be a really nice model of chronic inflammatory prostatitis," says Drake. "Some men with inflammatory prostatitis have active inflammation in the absence of infection, which makes us think that it’s caused by an autoimmune response. Unfortunately, this group of patients is the most difficult to treat. New insights into this disease process could lead to new ways to treat it, which are desperately needed." This work, by Drake and scientists currently at Yale University, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and Penn State Mont Alto, was published in The Prostate.