Georgia Cancer Specialists (GCS) was recently selected as the first non-urology group in Georgia to administer the new drug Provenge (Sipuleucel-T), which was approved earlier this year for the treatment of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic hormone resistant prostate cancer.
Dr. Mansoor Saleh, principal investigator and director of clinical research at GCS, said, “Provenge represents a new form of targeted immunotherapy in which the patient’s own immune system cells can be sensitized to attack prostate cancer cells in the patient’s body. This is but the beginning of a new era of therapies whereby we can ‘re-train’ our immune system to detect cancer cells as foreign and mount an immunologic attack.”
A course of Sipuleucel-T treatment consists of three basic steps:
1. Extraction of the patient’s own white blood cells, which include specialized antigen presenting cells (APC). This process is called leukapheresis and is akin to donating blood cells during a blood drive.
2. Incubation of APCs with the target protein, including prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), which is found on a majority of prostate cancer cells.
3. Re-infusion of APCs into the patient, allowing them to immunize the patient against prostate cancer cells.
A complete Sipuleucel-T treatment represents three APC infusions over the span of a month.
The treatment is currently available through the GCS-Northside office. Previously, the only site in Georgia where a patient could receive this therapy was at a urology practice where initial clinical trials were performed. As the leukapheresis and manufacturing capabilities expand, more patients will be offered this therapy, and the program will expand into more GCS offices, providing access to this treatment to patients all over the state.
The FDA’s approval of Provenge was based on the ability of this novel targeted therapy to increase the overall survival in this patient population. The adverse reactions are mild and include low-grade fever and/or chills during the infusion.