PORTLAND, Ore. In a multi-site study, Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute researchers have found that a drug called Ipilimumab, also known as MDX-010, works to stimulate the body's own immune system to fight prostate cancer. The drug was found to be effective in study participants with a serious type of prostate cancer one where the tumor has spread and was resistant to hormonal treatment and, in some cases, also to chemotherapy.
Darryl Pape was one of 19 participants in the Oregon Health & Science University Cancer Institute trial.
"I was in such bad shape. I couldn't even sit on a plane for more than two hours without a lot of pain. I was praying for some clinical trial that would help," said Pape, 54, of Portland, Ore.
Pape was running out of options for his prostate cancer. He was diagnosed almost seven years ago and had tried different cancer drugs, but each only for a while. Last year his cancer count, or prostate specific antigen (PSA), was at a high level -- an indicator that his cancer was growing and spreading and it was not responding to any drugs.
A prostate-specific antigen test measures the amount of prostate-specific antigen in the blood. PSA is released into a man's blood by his prostate gland. Healthy men have low amounts of PSA in the blood. PSA may increase as a result of prostate cancer.
Pape, a very religious man, was looking for a miracle. He found one when he was eligible for a clinical trial testing the effectiveness of Ipilimumab, at the OHSU Cancer Institute. After the first infusion of the drug, Pape said he could feel it working. After the second infusion, he said his symptoms went away.
"I felt great at that point," he said.
Not everyone has the same response, and Pape did suffer some side effects. But one year later, Pape is in complete remission.
"I got my life back," he said.
Tomasz Beer, M.D., a member of the OHSU Cancer Institute,
|Contact: Christine Decker|
Oregon Health & Science University