Prostate cancer (PCa) is the 2nd-leading cause of cancer-related death in Australian men. The growth of PCa is regulated by male sex hormones (androgens). Interestingly, therapies that both reduce and increase androgen levels in men can be a useful treatment strategy for metastatic disease, but neither strategy can cure a patient. The past decade has seen cancer immunotherapies revolutionise treatment of some cancer types (e.g. melanoma, lung). However, immunotherapy has to date provided very little benefit for patients with PCa.
Exciting new preliminary work from the research team has found that treatment of prostate cancer cells with a very potent androgen can activate an important anti-cancer immune response pathway. In this study, we will test whether this androgen can make prostate tumours more sensitive to a specific type of immunotherapy. This research could eventually lead to an entirely new treatment for metastatic prostate cancer that harnesses the body’s immune system.