A Spanish R&D research institution has developed an immunotherapy approach for the treatment and prevention of prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer worldwide among men and ranks third in terms of mortality. Within the 27 countries of the European Union, prostate cancer has emerged as the most frequent cancer in men, increasing rapidly over the past two decades.
Standard pharmacological and/or surgical therapy involving ablation (suppression) of androgens is initially effective, but most treated patients progressively develop the disease again and eventually die of cancer. Consequently, great efforts are being made to identify novel targets and agents for treating this disease.
In recent years, immunotherapy -the prevention or treatment of disease with substances that stimulate the immune response- has become an encouraging alternative or addition to the cancer treatment methods currently in use.
The present technology is based on a bifunctional linker carrying a small molecule that binds an antigen on prostate cancer cells on one side and a weak agonist on the other side. Advancing in this direction, the research group present a synthetic vaccine based in the programming of Toll-like Receptor 4 (TRL4) so that it signals when it detects a prostate antigen (PSMA), a protein found to be overexpressed on the surface of the prostate cancer cells.
To generate the linker, researchers successfully developed a new synthetic route that expedites the process and also allows reaction scaling-up. The overall vaccine synthesis process relies on simple purification techniques that allow production of up to 1 gram of compound. In addition, in vitro stability experiments were performed to validate the suitability of the linker for in vivo use. Also, its stability in human serum is really high and its affinity towards PSMA is high, and its capacity of cell inhibition is also good using NAAG peptidase inhibition assay.
Pharmaceutical partner is being sought to collaborate through a patent license agreement. The partner role will be: (i) co-development a new drug and, (ii) commercialize the vaccine.