Immune to Cancer: The CRI Blog



Prostate Cancer: A Unique and Common Cancer Affecting Men 

Most cancers affect everyone, regardless of sex, race, age, and other factors. Prostate cancer, however, only affects men, and after non-melanoma skin cancer, is the second-most common cancer among men in the US. While it unfortunately impacts a great many men globally and domestically, there is promise for immunotherapy to provide positive outcomes for prostate cancer treatment. 

Prostate cancer impacts approximately 1.3 million men worldwide and will take the lives of about 360,000 cancer patients in 2023. In the US, experts expect there to be 290,000 new cases and 35,000 deaths by the end of 2023. It will affect the lives of approximately one in every seven men over the course of their lives. 

In terms of treatment for prostate cancer, patients and their families can find encouragement and hope with some promising treatment outcomes. If it is caught in its early stages, prostate cancer is extremely treatable. The rate of survival in a five-year window is nearly 100% when prostate cancer is quickly identified and treated. However, if it is able to metastasize, the survival rate for prostate cancer plummets to less than 30%. 

Fortunately, there are three available immunotherapy treatments for prostate cancer. In April of 2010, the immunotherapy vaccine Sipuleucel-T (Provenge®) was approved for prostate cancer treatment by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA). There are also two approved immunomodulators for the treatment of prostate cancer. An immunomodulator is a medicine that alters a patient’s immune system to become more efficient in combatting cancer and autoimmune diseases. Dostarlimab (Jemperli), an immunomodulator, is a checkpoint inhibitor that is approved specifically for patients with advanced prostate cancer that have a DNA mismatch repair deficiency (dMMR). dMMR is an altered state where the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway is not optimally working. The other approved immunomodulator, Pembrolizumab (Keytruda®) is another immunomodulator, but is approved for patients with advanced prostate cancer that have dMMR, high microsatellite instability (MSI), or high tumor mutational burden (TMB-H). MSI is the phenomenon of alternate-sized repetitive DNA sequences that are atypical compared to corresponding germline DNA, and TMB-H signifies a significant number of tumor mutations. 

In recent years, several CRI scientists have made important discoveries and initiated ambitious research in the fight against prostate cancer. Former CRI Investigator Peter Savage, PhD (University of Chicago), acquired initial insight into the basic biology of tumor-invading regulatory T cells in a model of prostate cancer. Additionally, CRI Scientific Advisory Council member Padmanee Sharma, MD, PhD (University of Texas MD Anderson) and CRI Clinical Accelerator Investigator Sumit Subudhi, MD, PhD (University of Texas MD Anderson) have conducted several innovative studies testing the effects and immune correlation of responses to an anti-CTLA-4 checkpoint blockade for patients with advanced prostate cancer. Dr. Subudhi was the lead investigator of the PORTER trial, a 2019 collaboration between CRI and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. 

CRI is proud to have provided nearly 100 grants to research and clinical trials to improve outcomes for prostate cancer, resulting in almost $25 million in financial support. We are confident that with continued attention and research, we can help make prostate cancer a memory and create a world immune to cancer.  

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