A vaccine treatment for prostate cancer has become the first therapy of its kind to win approval for use in U.S. patients.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Provenge, a novel technique for fighting prostate cancer, on Thursday. The treatment involves taking a patient's own white blood cells and using a drug that trains them to more actively attack cancer cells.
"It's a landmark in the sense that it would be the first approved cell-based immune therapy," said Dr. Nina Bhardwaj, director of the tumor vaccine program at New York University Langone Medical Center, who is not involved with Provenge or its maker, Dendreon Corp.
The treatment is intended only for men with so-called "metastatic castration-resistant" prostate cancer, for whom hormone suppressant therapy has not worked. Studies have shown that Provenge prolongs survival by about four to 4.5 months.