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Precision drug raises hope on prostate cancer

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Precision drug raises hope on prostate cancer

Prostate cancer care is set to be transformed by the use of the first personalised medicine to tackle the disease. Findings from a study by British scientists leading the trial of the daily pill that uses a man’s genetic make-up to undermine a tumour’s defences suggested that a third of victims of advanced prostate cancer could benefit from the new class of drugs called PARP-inhibitors.

Similarly, medical experts at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, have now embarked on a phase three trial of one of these drugs, called olaparib, involving 350 patients with prostate cancer.Head of the Division of Clinical Studies and an international expert in the development of molecularly targeted cancer therapies against adult cancers, Professor Johann de Bono, said 150 of 350 men have already been recruited to the trial, which is set to run until 2020. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men of African origin (after skin cancer), but it can often be treated successfully. Prostate cancer is a leading cause of cancer-related deaths among men.

It is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Nigerian men. An estimated hospital prevalence of 127 per 100,000 in Lagos was reported in 1997. Nigeria is predicted to expect a 75 per cent increase in cancer-induced death including prostate cancer come the year 2030, as it happens to be a member of the Low-Medium Income Countries.

This was revealed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) regional director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti in a statement to commemorate the 2018 World Cancer Day. However, if the trials of the precision drugs are successful, it will pave the way for the first personalised, or ‘precision’, medicines for prostate cancer.

These enable doctors to accurately target cancers according to the patient’s genetic make-up, rather than the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach provided by chemotherapy and hormone therapy. Bono was among the team that found PARP-inhibitors and said it could successfully treat breast, ovarian and prostate cancer.

They found men and women with a mutated BRCA gene could be treated by the new drugs. The treatments work by zeroing in on cancer cells’ weakpointstokillthemwithout harming healthy cells. Bono’s earlier trial of 49 men, published in 2015 in the ‘New England Journal of Medicine,’ suggested a third of men with advanced ‘metastatic’ cancer could benefit from the precision treatment. They saw their cancers stop growing and tumour cells in the blood fall.

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