| GEO Health|
| America makes first therapeutic cancer vaccine|
| Updated at: 0940 PST, Sunday, May 02, 2010|
WASHINGTON: Called Provenge it works by encouraging the body’s immune system to fight tumours.
Unlike traditional vaccines, it is not designed to protect men from developing the cancer but rather help those already in an advanced stage of the disease.
Tests show that it can prolong the life of terminal patients by around four months, one month longer than traditional chemotherapy.
It has now been licensed for use in America but is not yet available in this country, where more than 37,000 men a year in Britain are diagnosed with prostate cancer.
Because each vaccine has to be individually tailored it is expected to cost around £45,000 per patient.
John Neate, from The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: “The news that this type of immunotherapy may offer additional survival benefit is promising.
“There are still questions to answer, even if the treatment fulfils its early promise.
“At present, we believe there are currently no laboratories in Europe equipped to undertake this treatment.
“Furthermore, this treatment is not currently approved in Britain and it will still be some years before doctors know enough about its long-term effectiveness and side effects to be confident about its potential place in the armoury against advanced prostate cancer.”
"We will monitor further developments closely."