Research latest

NEW: Blood test ‘can check for more than 50 types of cancer’

A simple blood test can check for more than 50 types of cancer, often before any signs or symptoms, scientists say.  It could help diagnose tumours sooner, when they are easier to treat and, ideally, cure, American and British experts hope. See more here

Hope of new drugs

Scientists have taken a step towards developing a new type of drug that could help treat prostate cancer. A Scottish professor has spent a decade developing a chemical that could target a different protein in cancer cells compared with other treatments. If taken to clinical trials and deemed successful, the new drug could potentially not only stop the cancer from growing but also increase the effectiveness of other existing treatments (Feb ’20). See more here. And London researchers have found drug fragments which could help improve understanding of the function of a key cancer protein and ultimately lead to new drug treatments. The fragments identified in the work could be potential building blocks of future drugs. More here

Hope for ‘super responders’

A major trial of an immunotherapy drug has shown it can be effective in some advanced prostate cancer patients. The men had stopped responding to the main treatment options.  Researchers found that a small proportion of men, described as “super responders”, remained well even after the trial ended, despite a very poor prognosis before treatment. One in 20 men with advanced PCa responded to the drug pembrolizumab – and saw their tumours actually shrink or disappear. Although a relatively small number, some of them gained years of extra life, the study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found. And19% saw some evidence of improvement. The phase II clinical trial, led by the Institute of Cancer Research and the Royal Marsden, involved 258 men with advanced prostate cancer who had run out of all other options on treatment (Nov 19). See more here

World first for drug

A Las Vegas man is the first in the world to begin prostate cancer treatment with a drug called Arvinas. Researchers associated with Yale University developed Arvinas to target the way a cancer cell survives (May ’19). Read more at

Gut bacteria might affect treatment

The millions of bacteria in the gut night have more to do with the effectiveness of PCa treatment than we realise, says scientist Karen Sfanos, PhD. “The gut microbiome can influence cancer therapy by its ability to chemically modify drugs.” This relationship works both ways: “Cancer-fighting drugs can also alter the composition of the bacterial species in the gut – and this, in turn, may affect how well that treatment works.” See more here

Bid to save sexual potency

A technique is being trialled in London to reduce the risk of men losing their sexual potency from prostate cancer surgery. The next stage, due to start in January ’19, is to secure funding to recruit up to 400 patients and expand the trial to Bristol and Sheffield. See here.

Stampede trial a success

Radiotherapy could extend thousands of lives, the Stampede study found. The trial, based at University College London, dealt with men with locally-advanced cancer (Oct ’18). See here

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 here. 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. See here.

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 here. And a prostate cancer vaccine is among trailblazing research being backed by the charity with £2.7m. See here.

Brisk walking ‘lowers risk’

A US study found a link between brisk walking and lowered risk of prostate cancer progression. See here.

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 here

Urine test created

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

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.

Genetic variants which increase risk

The UK Genetic Prostate Cancer Study collects blood DNA samples from over 300 UK centres and is the leading effort to find genetic variants which increase prostate cancer risk. This study will last about another 7 years. It has made 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 PCa patients. Dr Mari-Anne Rowlands, a cancer epidemiologist and lead author of the study, said more research was needed.

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