Magazine article Drug Topics

ACIs Offer New Hope for Prostate Cancer Patients

Magazine article Drug Topics

ACIs Offer New Hope for Prostate Cancer Patients

Article excerpt

Doctors hope that a new treatment using patients' own cells to treat prostrate cancer will be approved by the Food & Drug Administration-despite a recent decision by the agency to delay its approval. Described as active cellular immunotherapy (ACI), it uses a patient's cells that have been treated to trigger a specific and longlasting immune response that enables the body to fight cancer cells.

According to Daniel P. Petrylak, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, "It is intended to train the immune system to recognize cancer cells as dangerous in order to ignite the natural cascade of immune system events that would allow the body to destroy cancer cells." The new findings were disclosed at the Prostate Cancer Symposium in February.

Last year, there were 234,460 new cases of prostrate cancer and an estimated 27,350 deaths from the disease, and researchers say ACI may be one of the new cures for the deadly disease. Neal D. Shore, M.D., director of the Carolina Urologie Research Center in Myrtle Beach, S.C., said several of his patients are participating in clinical trials of the ACI product, Provenge (sipuleucel-T), a vaccine made by Dendreon Corp.

The results show that the therapy affects only cancer cells and that patients easily tolerate it. Side effects are minimal compared with chemotherapy. "It has the potential to be used both before and in combination with other agents," Shore said. The therapy involves withdrawing white cells from the patient's blood in a process know as leukapheresis. Antigenpresenting cells are then separated from white blood cells, incubated, and combined with a fusion protein containing prostatic acid phosphatase.

"After approximately 40 hours, the antigen-presenting cells are ready to be used," said Monique Gréer, a spokeswoman for Dendreon. "We subject each dose to quality-control testing." This process usually takes three days. Over 30 days, patients typically get three infusions, each lasting between 30 and 60 minutes.

According to researchers, Provenge activates T cells, which attack cancer cells. When a person is healthy, the immune system will treat cancer cells as foreign invaders and fight to remove them from the body. …

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