FDA Panel Passes First Cancer Vaccine

Prostate treatment recruits immune system to fight tumors
By Heather McPherson,  Newser User
Posted Mar 30, 2007 11:20 AM CDT
Tony Glavan, 45, received injections in his legs as part of a new clinical trial of a vaccine researchers hope will trigger his immune system to destroy cancer cells. Making the injection is Pam Mader...   (KRT Photos)

(Newser) – A cancer drug that's the first to harness the body's immune system to destroy tumors got a thumbs-up from  the FDA's advisory panel, the New York Times reports. If approved, Provenge, a prostate cancer treatment, would be the first of the "cancer vaccines"—experimental therapies that commandeer a patient's own white blood cells to fight tumors—to hit the market.

Provenge's success bucks the field's record of “disappointment and controversy,” notes a researcher, though it may not prove to be a home run.  While it prolonged patients lives an average of 4.5 months, it didn't eradicate tumors. It could be approved by the FDA as early as May.