It is a monoclonal antibody to a unique tumor marker for prostate cancer, said Pei Xiang Xing, associate professor who heads Burnet Institute’s Cancer Immunotherapy Lab, Melbourne and led the research team.
The monoclonal antibody is directed at cancer-producing cells carrying the specific molecule known as PIM-1, which is responsible for cell survival, proliferation and differentiation.
Over-expression of PIM-1 plays a critical role in the development, progression and metastasis of prostate cancer and other cancers such as leukemia. The monoclonal antibody significantly inhibited cancer cell growth when used in laboratory models of prostate cancer.
Xing’s group demonstrated that the monoclonal antibody binds to PIM-1 present in cancer cells and creates a chain of events leading to the death of the cells. In particular, the therapeutic effect was improved by combination of the antibody with other drugs currently used to treat prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the most frequently diagnosed invasive cancers and the third leading cause of death in men worldwide, which claims more than 3,000 lives every year, equal to the number of women who die from breast cancer.
A new strategy to treat prostate cancer is urgently needed as there is no efficient method to treat advanced prostate cancer, said a Burnet release.
Burnet Institute’s director Brendan Crabb described it as “an exciting step in the development of new treatments for patients with prostate cancer with very promising laboratory-test results”.