A team of international researchers have developed a novel prostate cancer treatment that effectively targets the disease and prolongs patient life.
The new prostate cancer treatment, called Lu-PSMA-617, employs beta radiation to target tumour cells directly and has been demonstrated to be well tolerated by patients with treatment-resistant prostate cancers, extending patients’ lives longer than traditional care.
The findings from the phase three trial of the drug will be presented at the European Association of Urology Congress.
A new approach to prostate cancer treatment
Considerable advancements have been made in medical technology and medicine in recent years; however, prostate cancer treatment had unfortunately not seen this same progress, with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer remaining untreatable and fatal. Nevertheless, the new Lu-PSMA-617 prostate cancer treatment provides a strategy against the disease, as it combats the PSMA molecule explicitly, which is understood to be increased on the surface of tumour cells, eradicating them and their surrounding microenvironment.
Analysing the new drug
To investigate how effective Lu-PSMA-617 is compared to traditional prostate cancer treatment, the researchers recruited 831 patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer between June 2018 and October 2019, with them being randomly assigned to receive the treatment plus standard care or standard care alone.
The investigation demonstrated that the treatment improved patient survival rates considerably, by an average of four months compared to standard prostate cancer treatment. The median survival time of the treatment group was 15.3 months compared to the 11.3 months for the standard care group. Furthermore, the progression-free survival – the time before a patient’s tumour becomes worse – was extended with the treatment, a median of 8.7 months compared to 3.4 months of standard care.
The team also examined potential side effects of Lu-PSMA-617, discovering that health-related quality of life was not negatively affected, indicating that it is a safe and effective medicine that can improve the standard of care for patients with advanced prostate cancer.
Professor Ken Herrmann, the Director of the Clinic for Nuclear Medicine at University Hospital Essen, said: “This is a completely new therapeutic concept; a precision medicine that delivers radiation directly to a high incidence tumour. The treatment was well tolerated by patients, and they had an average of four months longer survival with good quality of life. Lu-PSMA-617 can improve the lives of many men with advanced prostate cancer and their families.”
Professor Johann de Bono, Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: “Our findings show that this potent radioactive medicine can deliver radiation precisely to cancer cells and destroy them, extending patients’ lives. I hope men whose tumours have high levels of PSMA can soon benefit from this highly innovative treatment. Currently, the treatment is being appraised by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) for use in the NHS in England and Wales.”
“Using the PSMA molecule to directly target prostate cancer cells is the beginning of a new era of precision medicine in urology diagnostics as well as therapy”, said Professor Peter Albers, Head of the Department of Urology Dusseldorf University. “LU-PSMA-617 was tested in so-called end-stage disease and still showed superiority, and this paves the way for studies to treat patients in earlier stages. We have seen similar success in the diagnostic setting, using this molecule to improve the way we stage tumours. This targeted approach will revolutionise the way we approach the treatment of men with prostate cancer in the future.”