Vaccine approach extends life of metastatic prostate cancer patients

January 25, 2010

In a newly published clinical trial, patients with metastatic prostate cancer who received a vaccine of harmless poxviruses engineered to spur an immune system attack on prostate tumor cells lived substantially longer than patients who received a placebo vaccine, report researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and affiliated organizations. The findings will be published by the Journal of Clinical Oncology on its Web site and later in a print edition.

The randomized phase II study involved the PROSTVAC-VF vaccine, a combination of two weakened poxviruses that have been genetically programmed to produce slightly irregular versions of prostate specific antigen (PSA) - a protein on the surface of prostate cells that is abnormal in many prostate cancers - and three costimulatory molecules that spur the immune system to a more vigorous attack on . The double-blinded trial included 125 patients with metastatic who did not respond to standard, hormone-lowering therapy. Eighty-two of the participants received the vaccine, produced by BN ImmunoTherapeutics, Inc., of Mountain View, Cal., and 40 received a placebo.

The video will load shortly
Dr. Philip Kantoff explains the findings from a randomized phase II study of PROSTVAC-VF vaccine. The study found that patients with metastatic prostate cancer who received a vaccine of harmless poxviruses engineered to spur an immune system attack on prostate tumor cells lived substantially longer than patients who received a placebo vaccine. Credit: Chris Ingalls

At the three-year point after the study, 30 percent of the PROSTVAC-VF patients were alive, versus 17 percent of the control group. The median survival of the vaccine group was 24.5 months, compared to 16 months for the control group, an 8.5-month increase. Patients tolerated the vaccine well; only a small number experienced side effects such as fatigue, fevers, and nausea.

"Although this study is relatively small, it offers encouraging evidence of a clinically meaningful benefit from this approach," says principal investigator and lead author Philip Kantoff, MD, of Dana-Farber, who helped design the trial. Investigators are planning a phase III trial that will enroll about 600 patients to further evaluate the vaccine's effectiveness.

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Is there a link between telomere length and cancer?

March 23, 2017

Telomeres are regions of repetitive DNA at the end of human chromosomes, which protect the end of the chromosome from damage. Whilst shorter telomeres are hypothesized biological markers of older age and have been linked ...

Three-pronged approach is key to precision medicine

March 23, 2017

Combining genetic information from a patient's tumor cells with three-dimensional cell cultures grown from these tumors and rapidly screening approved drugs can identify the best treatment approaches in patients for whom ...

How the nervous system controls tumor growth

March 22, 2017

(Medical Xpress)—From the time it first comes online during development the nervous system begins to exact precise control over many biologic functions. In some cases, too much control. When it does, a little nerve-squelching ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.