- December 27, 2016
- Posted by: emobile
- Category: Researcher's Corner
Emobileclinic Researchers Corner
The Lancet Oncology has published the findings of researchers at University College London in the United Kingdom, who found that light therapy may be an effective, non-surgical therapy for men with low-risk prostate cancer, after discovering that almost half of study participants with the disease had complete remission following treatment with the novel procedure.
[Prostate gland and the male reproductive system.
In a study involving more than 400 men with localized prostate cancer, researchers show that the new treatment known as vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (VTP) can destroy prostate cancer cells without harming the surrounding healthy tissue. Also, VTP was discovered to importantly decrease the need for radical therapy, such as the removal or irradiation of the entire prostate.
In men with localized prostate cancer which is a cancer that is considered low risk and has not spread beyond the prostate “active surveillance” is often the first port of call. This is where the cancer is closely monitored through prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests, digital rectal exams, or prostate biopsies, and it is only treated if it becomes more severe.
If the cancer has spread to other parts of the body, treatment may involve radiation therapy or radical prostatectomy which is the surgical removal of the prostate and nearby tissues. These procedures come with several side effects, including bowel issues, urinary incontinence and lifelong erectile dysfunction.
In the new study, Prof. Mark Emberton and colleagues recommend that VTP could minimize the need for such treatments by fighting prostate cancer in its early stages.
VTP was invented by researchers from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Isreal, in collaboration with biotechnology company STEBA Biotech.
The treatment requires using injection of a light-sensitive drug called WST11 which is gotten from bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean into the bloodstream. Upon activation with a laser, the drug secretes free radicals that destroy cancer cells in the prostate.
In the phase III trial, about 413 men from 47 treatment sites across 10 European countries, all of whom had been diagnosed with early localized prostate cancer and were under active surveillance participated in the study.
The researchers injected 206 participants randomly with VTP, while the remaining 207 patients continued with active surveillance (the control group).
Patients were followed-up for 2 years, undergoing PSA testing and assessment of urinary and erectile functions every 3 months, as well as prostate biopsies at 12 and 24 months. At the end of the 2-year follow-up, the researchers discovered that 49 percent of patients treated with VTP had entered complete remission, compared with only 13.5 percent of patients who received active surveillance.
Furthermore, the researchers discovered that only 6 percent of men treated with VTP required radical therapy, compared with 30 percent of men in the control group. The team also reports that VTP-treated patients were three times less likely to have their cancer progress, and VTP was found to double the average time to progression from 14 months to 28 months.
Noting the side effects of VTP, the researchers reported that some men had urinary and erectile problems, but these resolved within 3 months of commencement of treatment. At the end 2 years, no significant side effects were present.
Prof Emberton notes “these results are excellent news for men with early localized prostate cancer, offering a treatment that can kill cancer without removing or destroying the prostate,” and that “this is truly a huge leap forward for prostate cancer treatment, which has previously lagged decades behind other solid cancers such as breast cancer.