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Vaccine description
Target disease Prostate cancer
Type Protein subunit
Clinical data
Trade names Provenge
AHFS/ FDA Professional Drug Information
MedlinePlus a611025
Pregnancy cat. N/A (only approved in men)
Legal status -only (US)
Routes Intravenous
CAS number 917381-47-6 YesY
ATC code L03AX17
PubChem SID85151648
KEGG D06644 YesY
 N (what is this?)  (verify)

Sipuleucel-T (APC8015, trade name Provenge),[1][2] manufactured by Dendreon Corporation, is a therapeutic cancer vaccine for prostate cancer (CaP). It must be prepared specifically for each patient. In metastatic prostate cancer, it has extended survival by median 4.1 months (IMPACT Phase III trial data).[3] The treatment costs $93,000.[4]

Cancer immunotherapeutic history[edit]

Sipuleucel-T is the first therapeutic cellular immunotherapy to demonstrate effectiveness in Phase III clinical trials by prolonging the life of patients who have advanced to the late stage of the disease, metastatic, asymptomatic, hormone-refractory prostate cancer (HRPC).

Other names for this stage are metastatic castrate-resistant (mCRPC) and androgen independent (AI) or (AIPC). This stage leads to mCRPC with lymph node involvement and distal (distant) tumors; this is the lethal stage of CaP. The prostate cancer staging designation is T4,N1,M1c.[5][6][7]

First FDA-approved therapeutic cancer vaccine[edit]

Sipuleucel-T was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on April 29, 2010, to treat asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic HRPC.[8][9]

Shortly afterward, sipuleucel-T was added to the compendium of cancer treatments published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) as a "category 1" (highest recommendation) treatment for HRPC. The NCCN Compendium is used by Medicare and major health care insurance providers to decide whether a treatment should be reimbursed.[10][11]

While referred to as a therapeutic vaccine that treats the cancer, as compared to a preventive vaccine, which prevents infectious disease, sipuleucel-T is an immunostimulant. As of 2013, there are three approved preventive vaccines which attack the cancer-causing viruses human papillomavirus, hepatitis A virus and hepatitis B virus.

Treatment method[edit]

A course of sipuleucel-T treatment consists of three basic steps:

  1. A patient's own white blood cells, primarily antigen-presenting cells (APCs), also called dendritic cells, are extracted in a leukapheresis procedure.
  2. The blood product is sent to the factory and incubated with a fusion protein (PA2024) consisting of two parts,
    1. the antigen prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP), which is present in 95% of prostate cancer cells, and
    2. an immune signaling factor granulocyte-macrophage colony stimulating factor (GM-CSF) that helps the APCs to mature.
  3. The activated blood product (APC8015) is returned from the factory to the infusion center and re-infused into the patient to cause an immune response against cancer cells carrying the PAP antigen.[5][6]

A complete sipuleucel-T treatment repeats three courses over the span of a month, with two weeks between successive courses.[12]

Survival difference[edit]

Sipuleucel-T showed overall survival (OS) benefit to patients in three double-blind randomized phase III clinical trials, D9901,[6] D9902a,[13][14] and IMPACT.[5]

An editorial in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that, "It is... uncertain what role sipuleucel-T will ultimately play in the treatment of prostate cancer, given the other promising treatments in development".[7]

The IMPACT trial[5] served as the basis for licensing approval of sipuleucel-T by the FDA. This trial enrolled 512 patients with asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic metastatic HRPC randomized in a 2:1 ratio. The median survival time for sipuleucel-T patients was 25.8 months comparing to 21.7 months for placebo-treated patients. Overall survival was statistically significant (P=0.032). However, a better control group would have included patients receiving white blood cells incubated with GM-CSF alone, so that the main difference between the two groups would have been the tumor antigen. Furthermore, the longer survival without tumor shrinkage of change in progression is surprising. This may suggest the effect of an unmeasured variable.[7] Nevertheless, the IMPACT trial was conducted pursuant to a FDA Special Protocol Assessment (SPA), a set of guidelines binding trial investigators to specific agreed-upon parameters with respect to trial design, procedures, and endpoints measured; trial regulatory value as the basis for FDA approval as well as overall scientific integrity were thus prioritized and ensured via such compliance.

The D9901 trial[6] enrolled 127 patients with asymptomatic metastatic HRPC randomized in a 2:1 ratio. The median survival time for patients treated with sipuleucel-T was 25.9 months comparing to 21.4 months for placebo-treated patients. Overall survival was statistically significant (P=0.01).

The D9902a trial[13] was designed like the D9901 trial but enrolled 98 patients. The median survival time for patients treated with sipuleucel-T was 19.0 months comparing to 15.3 months for placebo-treated patients, but did not reach statistical significance.

However, according to Huber, in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Dendreon's original statistical analysis plan would analyze the difference in effectiveness between patients <65 or ≥65 years of age. The published IMPACT trial used 71 years as the cut-off point, not 65. The New England Journal of Medicine printed a correction after inquiries by Reuters. According to Reuters, an FDA review found that men over 65 had a 41% greater chance of dying with Provenge. According to Huber, older men in the placebo group had a higher chance of dying, because removing white cells was harmful. Aggregating the younger and older men made Provenge look better.[4][15] Huber's contentions were ultimately exposed as a scheme to profit from speculation in put option contracts in the underlying security of Dendreon Corporation, which would have produced enrichment in the event the stock price were to have declined; the SEC accordingly found in November 2013 that in their reporting of Provenge, she and a colleague, via the dissemination of untrue statements and omissions of fact as a means to obtain money or property, violated Section 17(a)(2) of the Securities Act of 1933 (Securities Act), and imposed against each of them a six-month suspension, a $25,000 civil penalty, and a cease-and-desist order. - See more at:, cease-and-desist order:

Huber's analysis as published Journal of National Cancer Institute heavily speculates on the potential negative effects of Aph on placebo patients, this was later addressed by papers by James Gulley et al arriving at the conclusion that "data provides evidence that Aph inflicts negligible effects on a pts immune system, rejecting the hypothesis that pts immune competence is impacted by the procedure in a meaningful way."

Side effects[edit]

The side effects of sipuleucel-T were mostly limited to chills, fever, fatigue, nausea and headache which usually occurred within the first few days of treatment. In addition, more serious cardiovascular events were observed at a rate of 2.4% in patients treated with sipuleucel-T vs 1.8% in placebo-treated patients.[5]

Additional clinical trials[edit]

The PRO Treatment and Early Cancer Treatment (PROTECT) trial, a phase IIIB clinical trial started in 2001, is ongoing.[16] Its purpose is to test efficacy for patients whose CaP is still controlled by either suppression of testosterone by hormone treatment or by surgical castration. Such patients have usually failed primary treatment of either surgical removal of the prostate, (EBRT), internal radiation, BNCT or (HIFU) for curative intent. Such failure is called biochemical failure and is defined as a PSA reading of 2.0 ng/mL above nadir (the lowest reading taken post primary treatment).[17]

Clinical trials administering sipuleucel-T in conjunction with ipilimumab (Yervoy) are being conducted to evaluate for clinical safety and increased anti-cancer effects (quantified in PSA, radiographic, and T cell response) in patients with advanced prostate cancer.[18]


  1. ^ Plosker GL (January 2011). "Sipuleucel-T: in metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer". Drugs 71 (1): 101–8. doi:10.2165/11206840-000000000-00000. PMID 21175243. 
  2. ^ Immunostimulatory composition
  3. ^ Lacroix, Marc (2014). Targeted Therapies in Cancer. Hauppauge , NY: Nova Sciences Publishers. ISBN 978-1-63321-687-7. 
  4. ^ a b Exclusive: Questionable data propped up cancer drug Provenge, By Sharon Begley, Reuters, Oct 11, 2012
  5. ^ a b c d e Kantoff PW; Higano CS; Shore ND; Berger ER; Small EJ; Penson DF; Redfern CH; Ferrari AC; Dreicer R; Sims RB; Xu Y; Frohlich MW; Schellhammer PF (July 2010). "Sipuleucel-T immunotherapy for castration-resistant prostate cancer" (PDF). N. Engl. J. Med. 363 (5): 411–22. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1001294. PMID 20818862. 
  6. ^ a b c d Small EJ, Schellhammer PF, Higano CS, Redfern CH, Nemunaitis JJ, Valone FH, Verjee SS, Jones LA, Hershberg RM (July 2006). "Placebo-controlled phase III trial of immunologic therapy with sipuleucel-T (APC8015) in patients with metastatic, asymptomatic hormone refractory prostate cancer". J. Clin. Oncol. 24 (19): 3089–94. doi:10.1200/JCO.2005.04.5252. PMID 16809734. 
  7. ^ a b c Longo DL (July 2010). "New therapies for castration-resistant prostate cancer". N. Engl. J. Med. 363 (5): 479–81. doi:10.1056/NEJMe1006300. PMID 20818868. 
  8. ^ Richwine L (2010-04-29). "U.S. FDA OKs Dendreon's prostate cancer vaccine". Reuters. Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  9. ^ "Approval Letter - Provenge". Food and Drug Administration. 2010-04-29. 
  10. ^ "NCCN Guidelines and NCCN Compendium Updated". Retrieved 2011-01-08. 
  11. ^ "NCCN Drugs & Biologics Compendium". 
  12. ^ "Sipuleucel-T: APC 8015, APC-8015, prostate cancer vaccine - Dendreon". Drugs R D 7 (3): 197–201. 2006. PMID 16752945. 
  13. ^ a b Higano C, Burch P, Small E, Schellhammer P, Lemon R, Verjee S, Hershberg R (October 2005). "Immunotherapy (APC8015) for androgen independent prostate cancer (AIPC): final progression and survival data from a second Phase 3 trial". 13th European Cancer Conference. Paris. 
  14. ^ Mason K (2005-11-02). "New treatment options for patients with prostate cancer". ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation. 
  15. ^ Huber ML; Haynes L; Parker C; Iversen P (February 2012). "Interdisciplinary critique of sipuleucel-T as immunotherapy in castration-resistant prostate cancer". J. Natl. Cancer Inst. 104 (4): 273–9. doi:10.1093/jnci/djr514. PMC 3283534. PMID 22232132. 
  16. ^ "NCT00779402: Provenge for the Treatment of Hormone Sensitive Prostate Cancer". US National Institutes of Health. 
  17. ^ Roach M; Hanks G; Thames H; Schellhammer P; Shipley WU; Sokol GH; Sandler H (July 2006). "Defining biochemical failure following radiotherapy with or without hormonal therapy in men with clinically localized prostate cancer: recommendations of the RTOG-ASTRO Phoenix Consensus Conference". Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 65 (4): 965–74. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2006.04.029. PMID 16798415. 
  18. ^ "Sipuleucel-T and ipilimumab clinical trials". US National Institutes of Health. 

External links[edit]

 This article incorporates public domain material from the U.S. National Cancer Institute document "Dictionary of Cancer Terms".