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A Madison drug development company says it is expanding a study of one of its prostate cancer drug prospects as a result of upbeat early results.

Madison Vaccines Inc. (MVI) said that after a small, early study of its potential prostate cancer treatment, MVI-816, it has enrolled 20 more patients in the study, who will be treated for up to 48 weeks.

The clinical trial involves using MVI-816 along with Merck's Keytruda in patients with advanced prostate cancer.  

Early results show a decline in PSA, an indicator of prostate cancer in the bloodstream; evidence of tumor shrinkage; and an increased immune system response, according to Glenn Liu, principal investigator at the UW-Madison Carbone Cancer Center where the trial is being conducted.

Douglas McNeel, MVI chief scientific founder, said MVI-816 keys into biomarkers for prostate cancer to stimulate an immune system response, while Keytruda removes the obstacles that can keep cancer cells hidden.

"We believe the addition of MVI-816 activates and increases the number of immune system T cells in the prostate tumor, and then the PD-1 inhibitor (Keytruda) enables these T cells to more efficiently kill the cancer," McNeel said.

MVI is testing two compounds to fight prostate cancer, MVI-816 and MVI-118, both of which were developed in McNeel's UW-Madison lab. MVI-118 is in earlier, Phase 1 clinical trials. 


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Judy Newman is a business reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal.

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