Research latest

NEW:  Two trials ‘destroy cancer’

Drug gets body cells to ‘eat and destroy’ cancer. The US team behind the study hope to begin human trials within a few years. See. And US researchers have found a way to clear cancer in mice with immune-system stimulating injections. A report in the Science Translational Medicine Journal shows promise in terms of destroying tumours. The new approach is a form of immunotherapy (July ’18). See

New imaging method revealed

A new prostate cancer imaging method — PSMA-PET — for detecting sites of prostate cancer recurrence was reported at the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting. The results from a study will be submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration, and may result in approval of this new imaging method in the near future (Jun ’18).

NEW: Prostate surgery set to be revolutionised

Tiny remote-controlled ‘scalpels’ could revolutionise cancer surgery in five to 10 years. The first disease it is hoped to target is prostate cancer. The technique, researched at University College London, would be safer and less invasive than present methods. It combines the use of an MRI scanner and a tiny metal ball which is steered to to the tumour using the scanner’s magnetic field. Once, there, radio waves heat it up to destroy the cancer (Jun ’18).

Blood research aids cancer fight

A UK team has been able to scour the blood for signs of cancer while it was just a tiny cluster of cells invisible to X-ray or CT scans. It should allow doctors to hit the tumour earlier and increase the chances of a cure (Apr ’18). See. And US scientists have taken a step towards one of the biggest goals in medicine – a universal blood test for cancer (Apr ’18). See. Scientists have also created a skin implant they say could one day be used to help detect some of the most common cancers. It works by looking for elevated levels of calcium in the blood, which is linked to some cancers. When these levels go above a threshold, a response is triggered by the implant, leading the skin to form a brown mole (Apr ’18). See

Two big breakthroughs

The biggest leap in diagnosing prostate cancer “in decades” has been made using new advanced MRI scanners. See. Also this. But only a third of men can benefit, says Prostate Cancer UK. See. And a prostate cancer vaccine is among trailblazing research being backed by the charity with ÂŁ2.7m. See. A US study found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression. See.

‘Cure’ for terminal cancer?

Newspaper claims that advanced radiotherapy could cure nearly three in four cases of terminal prostate cancer are a little premature and have missed important points, say Prostate Cancer UK. Here they respond to the reports (Sept ’17).

Drug ‘lengthens life’

Good results are reported for the drug Apalutamide, which is under development for prostate cancer treatment. A US study found it lengthened life of men with castration-resistant cancer that had not spread (Feb ’18). See

Advanced MRI scans – a big leap

The biggest leap in diagnosing prostate cancer “in decades” has been made using new advanced MRI scanners. See. Also this. But only a third of men can benefit, says Prostate Cancer UK. See. And a US study found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression. See.

3D printing idea for surgeons

A trial is looking at whether 3D printing can help diagnose and treat prostate and kidney cancer. The US researchers want to know if 3D models of patients’ organs and disorders can increase the accuracy of the plans surgeons draw up before operating, to make the surgery more precise and improve outcomes (Oct ’17). See

Help with treatment

In a Radio 4 broadcast, Mark Porter reported on two landmark trials assessing when and how to treat prostate cancer (Jun ’17). Download or listen here.

Easy tracer developed

An easy-to-produce prostate cancer tracer, a substance vital for the discovery of cancers, has been developed by a King’s College London student (Oct ’17). See

New way to kill cancer cells claimed

Scientists say a new method of killing cancer cells might yield a much more effective treatment. See

Vaccine ‘brings new hope’

New vaccine brings hope to prostate cancer patients, a US symposium was told. The compound,  Provenge, primes the immune system to recognise and kill cancer cells that have spread (Aug ’17). See

Prostate cancer subtypes identified

Researchers have identified and validated three distinct molecular subtypes of prostate cancer that correlate with distant metastasis-free survival. This can help in future research to determine how patients will respond to treatment, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Society for Radiation Oncology. Findings represent a step towards the implementation of personalised medicine in prostate cancer care. See

Vaccine on trial

A new vaccine developed in the US to help prevent the recurrence of prostate cancer is being trialled to boost the immune system, it was reported in April 2015. Professor Raj Persad, of the Bristol Urological Institute, said the idea was an “excellent strategy” and the research looked very promising.

Urine test created

Scientists have created a urine test for prostate cancer after Bristol trials. See

Cancer and genes

There is strong evidence that certain men’s genes predispose them to prostate cancer. This has led to the development of a EU-wide targeted screening study in 18 countries.

Prostate cancer genetic code mapped

In February 2011, scientists at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard University announced that they had mapped the genetic code of prostate cancer. By sequencing the genomes of seven  tumours and comparing them with healthy tissue they believe they have uncovered the mutations and genetic damage that drive prostate cancer.

The UK Genetic Prostate Cancer Study collects blood DNA samples from over 300 centres in the UK and is the leading effort to find genetic variants which increase prostate cancer risk. This study will last about another 7 years. It has make considerable advances in discovering genetic variants which have led to targeted treatments.

Tumour-causing genes fused by male hormones

Scientists at the Institute of Cancer at Queen Mary University of London have found that male hormones play a key role in promoting a specific genetic change that fuels tumour growth. Identifying the genes that are regulated by these hormones is a major step forward in finding new therapies. The study focused on male sex hormones called androgens, which cause genes that are normally far apart to fuse together. The team found that androgens promote the fusion of two specific genes which fuel cancer growth.

Early warning proteins discovered

Bristol University researchers have identified two ‘growth factor’ proteins present in higher levels in prostate cancer patients. The proteins normally regulate growth and development in organs and tissue, especially in the womb and during childhood. Dr Mari-Anne Rowlands, a cancer epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said it was too early to be certain but these results suggested they might have identified potential new biomarkers for very early prostate cancer in men with no symptoms. More research was needed.