New prostate cancer drug hailed by experts

A powerful new drug could transform the treatment of men with aggressive prostate cancer, according to London’s Institute of Cancer Research whose scientists developed it.

The drug – abiraterone – received an enthusiastic endorsement from the institute, Europe’s largest cancer research laboratory, and its associated Royal Marsden hospital, as the first clinical trial results were published online by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Ten thousand British men a year, diagnosed with the most aggressive (and normally fatal) form of prostate cancer, could benefit, says the ICR.

Johann de Bono, head of the abiraterone clinical programme, said: “This is the biggest step forward in prostate cancer treatment since the 1940s.”

The ICR and Royal Marsden are usually too cautious to enthuse about a new treatment, for fear of raising excessive expectations among desperate patients. But Dr de Bono said their confidence was based on a substantial amount of unpublished data, as well as the formal analysis in the Journal of Clinical Oncology of the Phase 1 trial with 21 men.

“The Royal Marsden patients have very aggressive prostate cancer which is exceptionally difficult to treat and almost always proves to be fatal,” he said. “They have been monitored for up to two-and-a-half years and with continued use of abiraterone they were able to control their disease with few side-effects.”

Patients showed big falls in levels of prostate specific antigen or PSA, the blood protein associated with prostate cancer activity. “A number of patients were able to stop taking morphine for the relief of bone pain,” Dr de Bono added.

Abiraterone works by blocking the generation of male hormones that drive growth of prostate cancers.

Cougar Biotechnology, a Los Angeles company, is funding extensive further trials, including an international study with 1,200 patients under Dr de Bono’s supervision. He hopes abiraterone will be available for general use from 2011.


Health Direct ask s if this new treatment Abiraterone will be approved by the female biased NICE at the same speed with which they approved Herceptin?

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