Scientists at Melbourne's Burnet Institute have hit upon a novel treatment for prostate cancer patients.
The team led by Associate Professor Pei Xiang Xing, head of the Burnet Institute's Cancer Immunotherapy, has produced a monoclonal antibody to a unique tumour marker for the treatment of prostate cancer.
The monoclonal antibody is directed at cancer-producing cells carrying the specific molecule known as PIM-1, which is responsible for cell survival, proliferation and differentiation.
Over-expression of PIM-1 plays a critical role in the development, progression and metastasis of prostate cancer and other cancers such as leukaemia.
The researchers found that the monoclonal antibody significantly inhibited cancer cell growth when used in laboratory models of prostate cancer.
During the study, the team demonstrated that the monoclonal antibody binds to PIM-1 present in cancer cells and creates a chain of events leading to the death of the cells.
Moreover, the therapeutic effect was improved by combination of the antibody with other drugs currently used to treat prostate cancer.
"This is an exciting step in the development of new treatments for patients with prostate cancer with very promising laboratory-test results," said Professor Crabb.