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Prostate ‘vaccine’ proves effective


The lives of prostate cancer patients can be extended through the use a novel new treatment, scientists claim.

Research from biotechnology company Dendreon shows its Provenge cancer vaccine improves overall survival by training a patient’s immune system to fight tumours.

The treatment does not act like a traditional vaccine. Doctors must collect specialised cells from each patient’s blood, and then mix them with a protein found on most prostate cancer cells to help activate the immune system. The resulting “vaccine” helps the immune system recognise cancer as a threat, much as it would germs that enter the body.

The positive results from the study of 512 men with advanced disease mean Seattle-based Dendreon now plans to seek federal approval of the treatment later this year.

So far, the vaccine has been tested on men with cancer that has spread beyond the prostate and is no longer responding to hormone treatments to curb its growth.

Scientists say the revolutionary new treatment could be a new approach to fighting cancer beyond the current treatments of surgery, radiation, hormones and chemotherapy.

Copyright Press Association 2009


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