Research Highlights: Synthetic DNA therapy – An alternative treatment for prostate cancer

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Synthetic DNA therapy – An alternative treatment for prostate cancer

  • Prostate cancer is a malignant growth of cells in prostate glands. The prostate is where the production of fluid that makes up the semen, and is involved in bladder control regulation.
  • Prostate specific antigen or PSA is a protein made by both cancerous and non-cancerous cells of the prostate glands. High levels of PSA indicates a possible cancer in prostate glands.
  • PSA test remains controversial because researchers could not determine whether screening all men with PSA test can reduce the total number of deaths due to prostate cancer, and whether regular screening possesses more benefits that outweigh the risks.
  • Prostate cancer cells are fueled by androgen hormone. One treatment for prostate cancers is called androgen deprivation therapy which reduces the level of androgen to starve the prostate cancer cells, but the therapy possesses significant side effects during early usage.
  • A team of researchers from multiple organizations created a possible alternative treatment called synthetic DNA therapy which decreases the rate of PSA production.
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals develops synthetic DNA for treating cancers and infectious diseases.
  • The study includes patients with prostate cancer who underwent surgery and/or radiation therapy.
  • Usually after surgery or radiation therapy, PSA levels continue to rise and the patient’s immune system do not or minimally attack the prostate specific antigen.
  • The synthetic DNA therapy includes two plasmids which encodes prostate specific antigen, and encodes interleukin, a protein which activates an immune response.
  • Patients received the drugs every several weeks, and were followed up for up to 72 weeks.
  • The result shows that the disease did not progress in 85 percent of the patients at the 72nd week.
  • By multiple assessment, immune response was detected from 76 percent of the patients.
  • The decreased rate of PSA production was correlated with the frequency of CD8 T cells.


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