Dendreon to test Provenge in early-stage cancer

Now that it's ramping up production of its cancer vaccine Provenge, Dendreon is laying the groundwork for expanded use of the drug. At the American Society of Clinical Oncology meeting, the drugmaker announced a new clinical trial to test the novel drug in patients with earlier-stage prostate cancer.

As Dow Jones reports, the company won FDA approval last year for the treatment, an immune-system booster tailored to each individual patient. Provenge got the FDA nod for marketing as a treatment for advanced prostate cancer that has already been treated with hormone drugs. In that use, clinical data shows the drug extends patients' lives by a median of four months.

The hope is that earlier treatment might work even better. Because Provenge works by stimulating the immune system, it might deliver a bigger benefit if it's administered early on, when a patient's immune system is stronger. "We hope that the earlier you bring in the treatment, the longer that survival read out may be," Dr. Thomas Powles, who's signed on as co-lead investigator in the planned study, told Dow Jones.

The new trial, slated for sites in U.S., Europe and Asia, is expected to begin recruiting patients early next year. A small feasibility study will launch before the end of this year to make sure manufacturing and distribution are up and ready to support the larger trial, which will take up to four years.

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