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New Way to Treat Advanced Prostate Cancer is Promising

Posted Mar 01 2010 12:00am

Australian researchers from the Monash University have announced that they have discovered a new way to treat castrate resistant cells in advanced prostate cancer patients. Although the potential for their discovery is very exciting, it remains just an exciting new potential.

The study that has caused the excitement was conducted at the Prostate and Breast Cancer Research Program at Monash University and their results have appeared in the medical journal PNAS.

Associate Dean, Research Centers and Institutes and co-author Professor Gail Risbridger said: “The research showed that drugs that activate one of the two estrogen receptors, causes cell death. Most commonly cell death in patients with prostate cancer is achieved by withdrawing androgens (male hormones) which results in castration (my comment- ADT). Although the bulk of the tumor is removed by castration, some cells remain and these castrate-resistant cells are the ones that give rise to recurrent incurable disease.”

The researchers used an investigational drug to selectively and specifically activated the beta estrogen receptor in the prostate

Prof Risbridger said: “It not only inhibits the growth of prostate cancer but also kills off cancer cells that are resistant to conventional treatment such as androgen deprivation therapy, more commonly known as castration therapy and does so using a mechanism that is different to castration.”

The researchers initially made the discovery when working with animal models, and then successfully replicated laboratory results using human cells and tissues from prostate cancer sufferers. To date their work has not been replicated nor has there been any human studies.

Prof Risbridger said: “The team at Monash University has discovered how this compound working through the beta receptors targets a small, but very important, population of cells in the tumors. It is a significant piece of the puzzle that will help medical research in this field – an achievement that could eventually enhance treatment options for patients around the world with advanced prostate cancer.”

This research, if replicable needs to be fast tracked into direct human studies. However, I caution everyone to not get overly excited, as hard as that might be for us, because the remaining road ahead still is long and filled with many potholes and unexpected barriers.

--Reprinted with permission from Joel T Nowak, MA, MSW, www/

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