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Immunotherapy finally available for prostate cancer patients

A study carried out with the University of Vienna is giving home to patients with advanced prostate cancer.

Ipilumumab could be approved as treatment for the world’s third-most common type of cancer within the next few years, giving patients a great amount of hope.

Ipilumumab contains an immunotherapeutic agent which has been shown to have a markedly positive effect in the treatment of patients who have become resistant to conventional hormone treatments and chemotherapy.

The drug is a type of monoclonal antibody immunotherapy, which means that it’s made up of man-made cancer-fighting proteins that are designed to seek out and lock onto other cells which maintain the fight of T cells against cancer in check. By blocking the action of the other cells, Ipilumumab is thought to boost the immune system’s response against cancer cells in the body.

However, the study also revealed that the drug has its down sides too. The ‘revved-up’ immune system can also start to attack the body’s own tissues and non-cancerous cells. The study showed that the drug also might not be suitable for patients with highly advanced prostate cancer who are in poor general health, and for this reason a further study is currently being undertaken, with results expected in 2015.

The study was recently published in the highly-respected and widely-read medical journal, The Lancet Oncology, which was set up based on collaboration between the world’s leading research centres and the treatment of prostate cancer.

The study’s research team investigated the extent to which immunotherapy with this agent is also suitable for the more common type of advanced prostate cancer. The medication is already being successfully used as immunotherapy for advanced melanoma – a comparatively rare type of cancer.

Worldwide, prostate cancer is the third-most common form of cancer and is globally the sixth-most common cause of death from cancer amongst men. Each year, around 300,000 men are diagnosed with the condition in Europe and 2 million people within the EU are already living with the disease.

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