24/05/2005

Trials for prostate cancer drugs announced

Scientists have announced that they are testing new drugs that could be used to treat advanced prostate cancer.

Currently, advanced prostate cancer is treated with hormone therapy. However, this only works for a short period of time, after which there are few other options for the patient, apart from palliative care. The average survival rate after hormone treatment ceases to work is usually around 18 months.

However, scientists and doctors at the Institute of Cancer Research, in conjunction with the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, have announced that they are investigating multiple ways to reverse hormone resistance by testing several new drugs in laboratory and clinical trials.

Scientists say that prostate cancer sufferers have been missing out on drug developments, because drugs for other cancers are developed against specific targets, but because scientists do not fully understand how prostate cancer develops, drugs are rarely developed specifically to treat the disease.

It has been difficult to discover the genetic causes of hormone resistant prostate cancer, because it has been hard to get cancer cells from patients, because of the nature of the spread of the disease. However, patients involved in the new drug trials are having cancer cells removed and grown in the laboratory to identify molecular pathways and new targets for drug treatment.

Twenty-five new drugs are being evaluated as part of the trials, which are currently focused on hormone-resistant patients, with end-stage advanced prostate cancer, where hormone therapy has ceased to be effective.

Dr Johann de Bono, Team Leader and Consultant Medical Oncologist at the Institute of Cancer Research and Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust said: “These initiatives will ensure that in the future drug targets can be discovered and new anti-cancer drugs developed specifically for prostate cancer and that current drug discoveries are translated into real benefits for prostate cancer patients as rapidly as possible.”

The announcement of the drug trials coincides with the launch of the Institute’s Everyman Male Cancer Awareness Month, which runs throughout June.

Prostate cancer is now the most common cancer in UK men, with around 30,000 cases diagnosed each year.

(KMcA/SP)


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