New procedure to fight prostate cancer uses immune cells to attack cancer cells

The fight against prostate cancer has taken another step forward. There is hope in a new treatment that involves harvesting immune cells from patients. Those cells are then trained to attack the cancer.

Every spin helps pull immune cells from Benjamin Acob's blood stream; cells that will eventually be trained to target his stage 4 prostate cancer.

"Yah, I'm very happy. It's nice," says Acob.

"They were able to harness the ability to collect specialized cells in the immune system train them and reactivate the individuals immune system to then attack prostate cancer cells," says Dr. Ravi Patel, an Oncologist.

The FDA approved treatment is called Provenge.

In about 3 hours, immune cells are pulled, separated and collected.

Those cells are sent to a lab where they are trained outside the body to absorb proteins common to prostate cancer.

They are injected back into the body and train other cells what they've learned.

The cells multiply and move through the patientâ??s body and are able to recognize and target prostate cancer cells.

It's using your own immune system to target cancer; the cells are just getting some help to know what exactly to look for. Itâ??s much like authorities put out a wanted poster when they are looking for a criminal.

"That's a good way to put it. You know you have a wanted poster but there are so many guys with blue eyes and black eyes but this is the particular guy we are looking for you know," says Dr. Patel.

There are 3 treatments every two weeks. The treatment has a 20 percent reduction in death rate, and those who underwent the therapy lived longer than those who did not.

It's a first step to advanced prostate cancer treatment- but can be combined with other methods after.

"Why not stimulate the immune system. It's like someone is attacking you from the front door and you close the front door and someone comes and attacks you from the back door. So in the same way you use a part of the immune system but then you combine it with other therapies," says Dr. Patel.

Provenge costs $100,000 but it's covered by most types of insurance for stage 4 prostate cancer.

(Information courtesy NBC News)