Vax, hormone combo could up efficacy in prostate cancer

Prostate cancer could affect as many as one in 6 men during their lifetime, according to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, and for some their cancers recur and become hormone-resistant. The Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ) and the National Cancer Institute have hooked up to see if combining a vaccine and hormone treatment will improve the response.

Around 30% to 40% of men with prostate cancer who are treated successfully will see their PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels rising within 10 years, suggesting that their disease is progressing. Despite treatment with hormone therapy and no sign of disease spread, the levels continue to rise.

The researchers will treat these men with Bavarian Nordic's poxvirus-based investigational therapeutic cancer vaccine, PROSTVAC VF, a modified smallpox vaccine that produces PSA and immune system stimulators, along with flutamide, a standard hormone therapy for prostate cancer, or the hormone therapy alone.

Mark Stein, M.D., of CINJ said: "With growing use of immune therapy to treat advanced forms of prostate cancer, there is great interest in exploring the impact that this type of treatment could have on the disease at a pre-metastatic stage," he said.

Interim Phase II data from a separate trial of PROSTVAC were presented at the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting. In the trial, PROSTVAC was combined with a radiopharmaceutical, Quadramet (samarium-153 EDTMP) in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer, and the results showed that combination was well-tolerated, and there were early signs of an increase in the time to tumor progression. The vaccine is in a global Phase III trial.

- see the press release from CINJ
- read the press release about ASCO