A piece in today’s Times:
A “search and destroy” prostate cancer drug that seeks out tumours and delivers a precisely targeted dose of radiation can keep men with advanced disease alive for longer, a study has shown.
The treatment looks for a specific protein found in high numbers on the surface of some prostate tumour cells. Once found, it binds to the cells and kills them with radiation.
The study, led by a team at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR), found that adding 177Lu-PSMA-617 to standard care extended patients’ lives by an average of four months.
On average, patients who received the new treatment lived for 15.3 months, compared with 11.3 months for those given standard care alone. They also had longer without their cancer getting worse, at 8.7 months compared with 3.4 months. After two years, men who received the new treatment were 38 per cent less likely to have died.
Professor Johann de Bono, of the ICR and the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, the study’s co-author, said: “This new treatment acts like a guided missile — seeking out cancer cells with high levels of the PSMA [prostate-specific membrane antigen] molecule on their surfaces. It combines a potent radioactive medicine with a ‘homing signal’ that searches for tumour cells and binds to them, delivering radiation precisely to destroy the cancer.
“Our findings show that patients whose tumours have high levels of PSMA can benefit from this highly innovative ‘search and destroy’ treatment and I believe that these results can change the standard of care for some men with advanced prostate cancer.”
The study involved 831 men with advanced prostate cancer and whose tumours had high PSMA levels, who had previously been given at least one targeted hormone treatment as well as chemotherapy. Up to half of the 10,000 men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer each year are believed to have tumours with high levels of the protein.
The study is being presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s virtual annual meeting.
Dr Jonathan Simons, chief executive of the Prostate Cancer Foundation, said that the trial “demonstrates what’s possible with precision medicine: we can send a radioactive isotope directly at prostate cancer cells to eradicate them wherever they are in the body.”
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