Health Care

Trial first to show immunotherapy benefit in prostate cancer

Trial first to show immunotherapy benefit in prostate cancer”

Leading us scientists have been able to find a unique and revolutionary method that will help stop the spread of cancer cells in men with prostate cancer.

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 Johann de Bono, director of the drug development unit, said that the results of the trail are a "big deal" and "spectacular" as the men who were a part of the study had gone through all possible treatments and were dying, with just a few weeks or months to live but the drug resulted in their cancer shrinking and disappearing, with just minimal cancer left. These are medications which boost the immune system, and here trials have shown combination treatments to have have saved the lives of some men who were diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer.

Immunotherapy, which personalizes treatment based on the genetic make-up of tumors, is only successful for a minority of patients, professor Paul Workman, chief executive of the ICR, said in a statement.

Visit the American Cancer Society for more on prostate cancer. There are 47,000 new prostate cancer diagnoses annually in the United Kingdom alone, resulting in 11,000 deaths a year.

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 researchers suggest these mutating cancer cells may be easy for the immune system to recognise and attack because they look different from healthy cells.

According to the researchers, a subset of men who had run out of all existing options for treatment "survived much longer than expected when taking immunotherapy".

Only around 20% of cancer patients respond to immunotherapy and researchers do not fully understand why. Importantly, the medications only work for some patients. It seems to work incredibly well for a handful of patients, have a temporary effect in others, and do nothing for the rest.

"One of the major challenges with immunotherapy is that we don't have many reliable tests to pick out who will benefit".

Professor Bono concludes, "This new trial has found that testing for mutations in DNA fix genes could be a valuable marker of who will respond". With regard to patients' definitive prostate cancer treatment, 186 (94%) patients had undergone radical prostatectomy (RP) and the remaining 11 (6%) received external beam radiation therapy (EBRT). Most prostate cancers are slow growing; however, some grow very quickly.

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