Prostate cancer has one of the highest morbidity index of all cancers among Irish people. Early stages of the disease cause little to no symptoms, so it is either detected early via a routine check, or too late, when the disease is already at an advanced stage.
If caught and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is almost 90%, whereas late-stage disease carries a significantly lower chance of survival.
It has emerged today that a Belfast team has made a major breakthrough in the treatment of the disease.
Depending on how little or how much the cancer has spread, treatment options are varied, usually involving a combination of radiotherapy, surgery, and support therapies.
Now, researchers in Belfast have tested a novel treatment technique that combines an existing androgen-deprivation therapy with a new compound, OCT1002.
OCT1002 is a novel, hypoxia-activated prodrug that inhibits the expression of genes commonly associated with prostate cancer.
In-vivo testing showed that OCT1002, when used concomitantly with hormone treatment, caused markedly increased apoptosis of malignant cells, leading to enhanced tumor growth control.
The team also believes that this new combination treatment will greatly reduce the chances of relapse, as OCT1002 selectively targets hypoxic (‘low oxygen’) tumor cells. Tumor hypoxia is commonly associated with genetic aberrations in affected cells, which may trigger disease relapse.
Speaking about the breakthrough, study leader Dr. Declan McKenna said that clinical trials are needed, but explained that: “Hormone therapy is an effective treatment but its success with more resistant cancer cells is limited.”
“By combining hormone therapy with this new drug we have for the first time discovered a way to destroy these resistant cells that may otherwise lead to relapse or the spread of cancer cells.”