New vaccine supposedly “cures prostate cancer in mice”

Now curing prostate cancer in mice absolutely does not necessarily imply that the same vaccine can be used to “cure prostate cancer in man,” … but the technical capability is certainly a step in the right direction (if it really is true).

According to a paper just published by Kottke et al., a team of researchers at the Mayo Clinic here in the USA and at various institutions in the UK have collaborated to develop “a cDNA library of normal tissue, expressed from a highly immunogenic viral platform,” that can cure “established tumors of the same histological type from which the cDNA library was derived” (in mice).

Quoted in a Reuters report, Dr. Alan Melcher of Leeds University in England said that, “Using the immune system to treat cancer is a very exciting area at the moment. What we’ve done is to develop a new approach which builds on a promising foundation.” He went on to state that the team is now planning to develop the technique further and to have an experimental vaccine ready for testing in humans “within a few years.”

At least it sounds as though Melcher and his colleagues have reasonable expectation about how long it may take to develop their research such that it can be applied to a real patient with prostate cancer.

Additional information and commentary about this research appears on the HealthDay web site.

5 Responses

  1. As Allan Jones said to Groucho (Dr. Hackenbush) in “A Day at the Races,” “Are you a man or a mouse?”

    “You put a piece of cheese down and you’ll find out!” replied Dr. H.

    From mice to men … onwards and upwards!


  2. I hope this vaccine can be approved in Europe, Mexico, etc. that may not require all the proteins to be identified (like FDA does). Bavarian Nordic is committed to an affordable prostate cancer vaccine; perhaps they should be approached with this technology.

  3. As far as prostate cancer is concerned, I suspect that Barvarian Nordic will be entirely focused on Prostvac — the vaccine that they hope to take into Phase III clinical trials this year — for quite a while yet.

  4. This is promising news. Provenge and Prostvac seem to be more like proof-of-concept treatments that don’t do anything to delay disease progression. I don’t think those immunotherapies had this type of pre-clinical activity in mice. The rationale for this mechanism of action is intriguing and could be the key in turning advanced prostate cancer into a chronic, rather than a lethal disease. I just wonder why the vaccine only cured 80% of the mice?

    The FDA will need to be flexible for this vaccine to enter clinical trials. Potentially waiting 5 years for this to enter the clinic for human testing is deeply concerning. I can see a couple years as reasonable, but 5 years? There should be an expedited way to test this in terminally-ill patients who have exhausted all other therapies and only have weeks/months to live in any case.

  5. Dear Tom:

    I suspect you are significantly underestimating the difficulties of making a product like this in sufficient quantities to test at all in man, quite apart from whether it is effective and safe. My bet it could take at least 2 years to learn how to “scale up” production of a vaccine like this — even to produce enough vaccine for a clinical trial.

    And then thousands of products every year do wonderful things in rats and mice but turn out to be absolutely useless in men and women.

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