Immunotherapy to Advance Prostate Cancer Treatment

A NOVEL immunotherapy strategy for the treatment of prostate cancer using DNA-encoded monoclonal antibodies (DMAb) has shown promising results according to a study carried out by The Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men and traditional treatments are invasive and can reduce the patient’s quality of life, highlighting the need for novel treatments.

Previous research has focussed on the use on monoclonal antibodies targeting the prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), present on the surface of prostate cancer cells, to elicit an anti-tumour immune response to control and shrink the tumour. However, this method was limited due to the cost of producing the therapeutic antibodies. Therefore, Wistar researchers developed this new technique, which utilises an engineered DNA plasmid to deliver signals that trigger the patient’s body to produce the anti-PSMA antibody. This technique has important implications in the use of DNA technologies as a platform for delivering next-generation immunotherapies for cancers and many other diseases.

The technique was tested using mice to see if they had the ability to generate antibodies that could target human PSMA along with PSMA-positive tumours. It was subsequently shown that the antibodies could bind to the cancerous cells, recruit natural killer cells, and cause shrinkage of the tumour, therefore significantly improving survival.

Dr David B. Weiner, the study’s senior author, The Wistar Institute, commented: “There is great need for such new approaches for prostate disease as well as many other cancers. As recent data suggest, PSMA is an important cancer antigen expressed on many human prostate, bladder, renal as well as ovarian cancer, so additional study of the possible benefits of this therapy are important.” Assistant Professor Kar Muthumani, The Wistar Institute, concluded: “The unique features of our synthetic DAN-based system make it a promising novel approach for cancer therapy, alone or in combination with other treatments,” indicating that further research into the effect this novel therapy could have far-reaching ramifications for many other diseases.

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