« | Home | »

Prostate Cancer – Immunotherapy Works Where Other Treatments Fail

By jeremyc | June 5, 2018

Can immunotherapy work for those prostate cancer patients who didn’t benefit from other treatments? This is the question which researchers investigated in a new study. They have concluded the answer is ‘yes’. According to them, pembrolizumab, an immunotherapy drug, is a viable option to treat prostate cancer that is in advanced stage and has not responded to other cancer treatments.

Immunotherapy works by increasing the immune system’s capability to attack and kill cancer cells. Pembrolizumab comes in the class of drugs popularly known as checkpoint inhibitors. Our immune system uses T-cells to kill cancer cells. What checkpoint inhibitors do is urge the immune system to release more T-cells, and this in turn helps it to combat cancer cells better.

Immunotherapy has been shown to be an effective treatment option against cancers in which the levels of acquired genetic mutations are high, like lung cancer, bladder cancer, and melanoma.

Previous research aimed at finding effectiveness of immunotherapy in treating prostate cancer has given discouraging results. However, this study shows immunotherapy is an effective treatment option for certain patients.

It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of advanced prostate cancer patients don’t benefit from other cancer treatments. It is this group that was noted to get best results from pembrolizumab.

In this study, the researchers enrolled 258 advanced prostate cancer patients. All of them were given pembrolizumab.

Nearly 38 percent of patients in this group lived for 12 months. About 11 percent of them are still in treatment after 12 months, and their cancer has not worsened. In nearly 5 percent of them, the cancer has completely gone or shrunk.

These percentages mightn’t look overly impressive, but the researchers state that a certain subset of patients showed a much better response rate. These were those patients who had severely mutated cancer cells.

While right now it is not very clear why the treatment worked better for this group of patients, the researchers have a theory. They believe that cancer cells that are highly mutated are easily identifiable and targetable as the look very different from other cells.

Topics: | Prostate | No Comments »

Comments are closed.