The absence of curative therapies for advanced or recurrent forms of prostate cancer has prompted a vigorous search for novel treatment strategies. Immunotherapy encompasses one particularly promising systemic approach to the treatment of prostate cancer. Immune-based strategies for treating prostate cancer have recently been facilitated by the identification of a number of prostate tissue/tumour antigens that can be targeted, either by antibody or T cells, to promote prostate tumour cell injury or death. These same prostate antigens can also be used for the construction of vaccines to induce prostate-specific T cell-mediated immunity. Greater insight into specific mechanisms that govern antigen-specific T cell activation has brought with it a number of innovative methods to induce and enhance T cell-mediated responses against prostate tumours. For instance, autologous dendritic cells loaded with prostate antigens have proved useful to induce prostate-specific T cell activation. Similarly, in vivo manipulations of T cell costimulatory pathway receptors can greatly facilitate tumour-specific T cell activation and potentiate T cell-mediated responses against a number of malignancies, including prostate cancer. For example, blocking T cell cytotoxic lymphocyte-associated antigen 4 (CTLA-4) receptor binding to its ligand prevents the down-regulation of T cell responses and can even potentiate T cell antitumoural immunity in mouse models of prostate cancer. Androgen ablation (AA) may induce prostate tumour/tissue-specific T cell mediated inflammation and, as such, a phase II trial is currently in progress to ascertain whether CTLA-4 blockade can enhance AA-induced treatment responses in patients with advanced prostate cancer. Nevertheless, further basic and clinical investigation is still required to establish immunotherapy as a true prostate cancer treatment option.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pharmacology (medical)