Research news

New advanced cellular medication for prostate cancer immunotherapy

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Publish Date: 27.12.2021

Category: Outstanding research achievements, Our contribution to sustainable development goals

Sustainable development goals: 3 Good health and well-being (Indicators)

Researchers at the Medical Faculty, University of Ljubljana, the Celica Institute for Tissues and Cells, the Biomedicine Centre, the Donor Centre of the Ljubljana University Medical Centre and the Slovenian Transfusion Medicine Institute have developed and clinically tested a new cellular medication, aHyC, for immunotherapy in castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC).

The autologous cellular medication aHyC provides personalised therapy for patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). This medication is made from the patient's own white blood cells and his own prostate tumour cells, which are electrofused under controlled conditions to form immunohybridomas – aHyC. Immunohybridomas are then returned into the patient's body by way of subcutaneous injection. In the body, immunohybridomas present to the immune system all antigens (both known and unknown ones) which are present on the patient's tumour cells, thus activating specific immune mechanisms active against tumour cells.

A randomised clinical study, which was performed over a 7-yerar period including patient follow-up, enrolled 22 male patients having the diagnosis of CRPC. The study was primarily focused on evaluating the safety of this type of treatment, and the results showed that it is safe; only a few mild side effects were detected, mostly associated with aHyC treatment – the symptoms were similar to mild flu.

Treatment with aHyC also preserved the quality of life of the patients. The median patient survival from the beginning of the study was 58.5 months, and 8 out of the 19 patients (42%) whose results were analysed are still alive today; 4 (21%) of them have not yet needed any subsequent conventional therapy.

The results of the study also revealed the mechanism of action of the aHyC cellular medication via the subpopulation of natural killer (NK) cells. aHyC inhibits the growth of the NK subpopulation, with which the survival of CRPC patients is also correlated. Therefore, changes in the NK subpopulation in peripheral blood can be evaluated as a prognostic marker in the follow-up of this disease.

There is also the possibility that the new technology of aHyC immunohybridoma preparation may be used in the treatment of other types of solid tumours.

 Celično zdraviloFigure: Schematic presentation of the production of aHyC cellular medication and course of treatment. DC – dendritic cells; TC – tumour cells. Authors: Assoc. Prof. Helena Haque Chowdhury, PhD, et al.

Source: CHOWDHURY HAQUE, Helena, HAWLINA, Simon, GABRIJEL, Mateja, TRKOV, Saša, KREFT, Marko, LENART, Gordan, CUKJATI, Marko, KOPITAR, Andreja Nataša, KEJŽAR, Nataša, IHAN, Alojz, LEŽAIČ, Luka, GRMEK, Marko, KMETEC, Andrej, JERAS, Matjaž (author, correspondence author), ZOREC, Robert. Survival of castration-resistant prostate cancer patients treated with dendritic-tumor cell hybridomas is negatively correlated with changes in peripheral blood CD56brightCD16- natural killer cells. Clinical and translational medicine. 2021, vol. 11, no. 8, pp. 1–7;



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