Home Finance & Investing New prostate cancer treatment could be on the horizon, say UK researchers: ‘Tremendously exciting’

New prostate cancer treatment could be on the horizon, say UK researchers: ‘Tremendously exciting’

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New prostate cancer treatment could be on the horizon, say UK researchers: ‘Tremendously exciting’

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Prostate cancer patients could have a new treatment on the horizon.

A new study published in the journal Nature has found that for some patients with treatment-resistant prostate cancer, a new process can “block” the messages that cancer uses to “hijack” white blood cells.

In early clinical trials, researchers from The Institute of Cancer Research in the U.K. found that this process made advanced prostate cancers more treatable, “shrinking tumors or halting their growth,” according to a press release from the university.

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The researchers targeted “feeder” myeloid white blood cells, which are typically pulled into cancer tumors to advance the disease. This was the first human trial to show that this approach can slow the growth of cancer tumors and make them more responsive to treatment.

In the study, patients with advanced disease received two medications: AZD5069, an experimental drug that blocks cancer cells from “hijacking” myeloid cells to feed tumors, and enzalutamide, a hormone therapy commonly used to treat prostate cancer.  

Man cancer patient

A new study published in the journal Nature has found that for some patients with treatment-resistant prostate cancer, a new process can “block” the messages that cancer uses to “hijack” white blood cells. (iStock)

Among a small group of patients with advanced prostate cancer, 24% of them responded to the treatment, meaning their tumors shrunk by more than 30%, according to the press release.

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They also saw “dramatic decreases” in prostate-specific antigens (PSA), a marker that is often higher for cancer patients.

Patients who received the treatment also had lower levels of myeloid cells in their tumors.

In addition to The Institute of Cancer Research, other participating universities included The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London and The Institute of Oncology Research (IOR) in Switzerland, which have been working on the research for more than a decade.

Man at doctor

Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among men, and about one in every 41 men will die of the disease.  (iStock)

“This research proves for the first time that targeting myeloid cells rather than the cancer cells themselves can shrink tumors and benefit patients,” said study leader Johann De Bono, professor in experimental cancer medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, in the press release. 

“This is tremendously exciting, and it suggests we have an entirely new way to treat prostate cancer on the horizon.”

This treatment could eventually be extended beyond just prostate cancer, De Bono added.

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“This strategy may have broader benefits to sufferers from other cancer types,” he told Fox News Digital.

Study limitations

The key limitation of the research was the small sample size, the researcher noted.

“It is a small trial that needs confirmation in future studies,” De Bono told Fox News Digital, emphasizing the need to “pursue further trials with better drugs to maximize patient benefit as soon as possible.”

Prostate scan

Among a small group of patients with advanced prostate cancer, 24% of them responded to the treatment, meaning their tumors shrunk by more than 30%. (iStock)

Dr. William M. Rafelson, director of genitourinary oncology at Atlantic Health System in New Jersey, noted that effective drugs are “desperately needed” for this disease — especially for metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer, which occurs when the cancer stops responding to hormone treatment and spreads to other parts of the body.

Most patients with metastatic castration prostate cancer often succumb to their illness within two to three years, noted Rafelson, who was not involved in the study.

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“This study is exciting in that it is looking closely at the role of specific white blood cells in our immune system, called neutrophils,” he told Fox News Digital. 

“While these cells are essential first responders to bacterial, fungal and other infections, they can also run rampant, leading to harmful levels of inflammation that can fuel cancer growth and hamper the ability of other immune cells to kill the cancer.”

Patient talking to doc

Most patients with metastatic castration prostate cancer often succumb to their illness within two to three years, noted an oncologist. (iStock)

Rafelson noted that this study is the first of its kind in prostate cancer, showing that blocking a part of the patient’s immune system can reverse the resistance to hormone therapy in late-stage prostate cancer.

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“Ongoing questions are whether this therapy will continue to prove to be safe, if the rate of response will be the same or higher in a larger group of patients, and how we can better identify responders before we treat them,” he added.

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Prostate cancer is the leading cancer diagnosis among men, and about one in every 41 men will die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

For more Health articles, visit www.foxnews.com/health.

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