New prostrate cancer drug raises hope

July 22nd, 2008 - 1:02 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 22 (ANI): Scientists at the Institute of Cancer Research have come up with a miraculous new drug that can potentially save the lives of thousands of prostate cancer sufferers.

According to scientists, men with aggressive and incurable prostate cancer can gain years of life with abiraterone.

Abiraterone could potentially treat up to 80percent of patients with a deadly form of the disease resistant to currently available chemotherapy, the researchers say.

The Institute of Cancer Research hopes a simple pill form will be available in two to three years.

An advanced clinical trial involving 1,200 patients around the world is currently under way, with more trials likely later this year.

It had been assumed that the cancer was driven by sex hormones such as testosterone produced in the testicles. Current treatments work by stopping the testicles from producing testosterone.

However, experts have now discovered that the cancer can feed on sex hormones from all sources, including supplies of the hormone produced by the tumour itself.

Abiraterone works by blocking production of the hormones throughout the body.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is based on just 21 patients with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer treated with the drug - but data has been collected on a total of 250 worldwide.

It found significant tumour shrinkage, and a drop in tell-tale levels of a key protein produced by the cancer called prostate specific antigen in the majority of patients.

Many of the patients, who have been monitored for up to two-and-a-half years, have reported a significant improvement in the quality of their lives.

Some were able to stop taking morphine for the relief of pain caused by the spread of the disease to their bones.

Lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono said the findings needed to be confirmed in larger trials.

“We believe we have made a major step forward in the treatment of end-stage prostate cancer patients. These men have very aggressive prostate cancer which is exceptionally difficult to treat and almost always proves to be fatal, BBC quoted him, as saying.

“We hope that abiraterone will eventually offer them real hope of an effective way of managing their condition and prolonging their lives, he added.

It is hoped the drug will also aid other cancer patients, including those with breast cancer. (ANI)

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