Mayo researchers: Dramatic outcomes in prostate cancer study

Jun 19, 2009

Two Mayo Clinic patients whose prostate cancer had been considered inoperable are now cancer free thanks in part to an experimental drug therapy that was used in combination with standardized hormone treatment and radiation therapy. The men were participating in a clinical trial of an immunotherapeutic agent called MDX-010 or ipilimumab. In these two cases, physicians say the approach initiated the death of a majority of cancer cells and caused the tumors to shrink dramatically, allowing surgery. In both cases, the aggressive tumors had grown well beyond the prostate into the abdominal areas.

"The goal of the study was to see if we could modestly improve upon current treatments for advanced ," says Eugene Kwon, M.D., Mayo Clinic urologist and leader of the clinical trial. "The candidates for this study were people who didn't have a lot of other options. However, we were startled to see responses that far exceeded any of our expectations."

The patients first received a type of hormone therapy called androgen ablation, which removes testosterone and usually causes some initial reduction in . Researchers then introduced a single dose of ipilimumab, an antibody, which builds on the anti-tumor action of the hormone and causes a much larger immune response, resulting in massive death of the tumor cells. Both men experienced consistent drops in their prostate specific antigen (PSA) counts over the following weeks until both were deemed eligible for surgery. Then, during surgery, came a greater surprise.

"The tumors had shrunk dramatically," says Michael Blute, M.D., Mayo , co-investigator and surgeon, who operated on both men. "I had never seen anything like this before. I had a hard time finding the cancer. At one point the pathologist (who was working during surgery) asked if we were sending him samples from the same patient."

One patient underwent radiation therapy after ; both have resumed their regular lives. Further research is being planned to understand more about the mechanisms of the antibody and how best to use the approach in practice. The researchers, however, note the significance of their findings.

"This is one of the holy grails of prostate cancer research," says Dr. Kwon. "We've been looking for this for years."

Source: Mayo Clinic (news : web)

Explore further: AstraZeneca cancer drug, companion test approved

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Facts About Prostate Cancer and Its Treatment

Oct 25, 2006

In 2006, about 235,000 Americans will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, making it the most common cancer among males. If caught early, prostate cancer is very treatable and usually curable.

Recommended for you

Putting the brakes on cancer

Dec 19, 2014

A study led by the University of Dundee, in collaboration with researchers at our University, has uncovered an important role played by a tumour suppressor gene, helping scientists to better understand how ...

Peanut component linked to cancer spread

Dec 19, 2014

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have found that a component of peanuts could encourage the spread and survival of cancer cells in the body.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.