Immunotherapy for Prostate Cancer Could Have Spectacular Results

Grant Boone
June 6, 2018

"Our study has found that immunotherapy can benefit a subset of men with advanced, otherwise untreatable prostate cancer, and these are most likely to include patients who have specific DNA fix mutations within their tumours", said Johann de Bono, Director of the Drug Development Unit at the Institute of Cancer Research.

The new study involved trial of 258 men, and the trial was conducted jointly by the Institute of Cancer Research, London, and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust. Professor de Bono adds: "Our study has found that immunotherapy can benefit a subset of men with advanced, otherwise untreatable prostate cancer, and these are most likely to include patients who have specific DNA fix mutations within their tumours".

Professor Johann de Bono says, "I have these men who are dying, with weeks to months to live, whom we gave this drug to and had complete responses".

Scores of men with the most lethal form of prostate cancer have been "brought back from the brink of death" by a drug found to work where all others have failed in a groundbreaking British-led trial. The amount of damage that a cell can endure, however, is influenced by external factors such as alcohol, smoking, exposure to UV light, and many cancer cells have lost some of the ability to self-repair the genome.

De Bono said that while patients with DNA fix mutations responded to treatment, further investigation is still needed to confirm this.

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Further trials will be needed before the drug, already licensed for certain types of skin cancer, lung cancer and lymphoma, is approved for routine clinical use in prostate cancer. The recent research focused on the tumor genetics and inferred that a particular group of the prostate cancer patients might be benefited with the current immunotherapy.

They stop cancers turning off the immune system so the body can keep on attacking the tumour. More white patients than black patients had no PSA decline.

"The challenges we now face are how to predict in advance who will benefit, and how to make immunotherapy work for more people". He added: 'The next stage is to try and develop tests to help us better identify which patients will benefit most'.

"This new trial has found that testing for mutations in DNA fix genes could be a valuable marker of who will respond". All participants had metastatic, recurrent prostate cancer and were treated with the anti-hormone therapy abiraterone and the steroid prednisone. This study should serve as a call for the entire cancer research community to make trials much more inclusive.

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