For those patients diagnosed with localized prostate cancer, the risk of recurrence is approximately 30%--even years after initial treatment. To help minimize this risk, researchers have developed a vaccine that is showing promising results in early clinical trials.
Advantagene, a biotech company based in Newton, Mass., has designed a prostate cancer vaccine known as ProstAtak. Unlike traditional vaccines that attempt to prevent disease, ProstAtak is designed to prevent recurrence. This vaccine works a bit differently from the current FDA-approved prostate cancer vaccine known as sipuleucel-T (PROVENGE), which is an autologous cellular immunotherapy for the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic castrate resistant (hormone refractory) prostate cancer.
The ProstAtak vaccine works via a gene transfer method by administering a series of three injections (ProstAtak or placebo) directly into the prostate--followed by 14 days of valacyclovir pills. The hope is that the ProstAtak vaccine will rev up the body's immune system, which in turn will detect and destroy recurring cancer cells.
Injections are performed using transrectal-guided ultrasound (TRUS), the same method used to perform a prostate biopsy. This procedure is performed in conjunction with standard radiation treatment.
Early clinical trial data has warranted special FDA approval for an accelerated phase III clinical trial. If this study continues to show promising results, ProstAtak could receive approval within the next few years.
If you currently have patients diagnosed with intermediate, localized prostate cancer (or patients with only one NCCN high-risk feature) that would qualify for this study, UMass Medical School, along with a handful of other cancer programs, are actively recruiting patients into this clinical trial.