Provenge, a New Prostate Cancer Vaccine, Will Soon Be Available at UCSF

By Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe | May 22, 2010

The cancer vaccine sipuleucel-T -- now commercially branded as Provenge -- will soon be available at a select group of medical centers nationwide, including UCSF.

Provenge is a newly-approved, life-extending prostate cancer treatment for men with advanced disease. Medical centers that helped to carry out the clinical trials leading to approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be the first to offer Provenge in standard practice. Within a few weeks, UCSF cancer specialists will become the first and only site in Northern California to make the treatment available to patients who are not participating in clinical trials.

At the end of April Provenge became the first cancer treatment vaccine to be approved by the FDA. Compared to chemotherapy, Provenge generally causes fewer and milder side effects.

UCSF medical researcher Eric Small, MD, has been involved in the development of the treatment. He conducted the first studies in patients, and has remained involved through the completion of advanced phase III clinical trials.

Small, a medical oncologist and the director of clinical sciences for the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, is optimistic about the possibility that Provenge and other immunotherapies now in clinical trials will prove effective alone or in combination other drugs against all stages of prostate cancer.

"The stimulation of the immune system to attack cancer has been an elusive goal.The data that led to the FDA approval of Provenge is an important proof-of-concept."

Read more at Jeffrey Norris, UCSF Science Cafe