Immunotherapy is an exciting new weapon in the treatment of aggressive cancers that works by harnessing the body’s own immune system to eradicate cancer cells. In prostate cancer, the success of immunotherapy in clinical trials is mixed. Where many patients show little response to immunotherapy treatments, other patients have outstanding responses, significantly improving life expectancy.
The ability to pre-select which prostate cancer patients are likely to respond to immunotherapy and which patients are unlikely to benefit, would be a major advance in personalising treatments for maximum benefit.
A study, published in Cell, evaluated the genetic identity of hundreds of advanced metastatic prostate cancers to identify a unique subgroup characterised by a defect in the CDK12 gene.
Researchers at the University of Michigan, found that this particular subgroup of prostate cancers have a distinct genetic identity and tumour immune microenvironment that may respond well to immunotherapy. Whilst preliminary, these exciting findings could pave the way to effective personalised treatment for some advanced prostate cancers.