New Therapy for Aggressive Prostate Cancer Improves Survival

There is some very good news on the prostate cancer front.

According to an article in the New York Times on June 25, 2021, a new therapy for aggressive prostate cancer has been developed that will increase survival rates. It relies on a radioactive molecule to target a protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells.

This new targeted therapy drives radiation straight to the cancer itself, and the place where the cancer “lives,” without damaging surrounding tissue.  It may have applications for the treatment of other cancers. 

“This represents an exciting and significant advancement in the treatment of prostate cancer,” said Regina English, Executive Director of the National Cancer Center. “It is just the type of progress we hope to help fund with our new Prostate Cancer Project.”

Prostate cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death among American men, after lung cancer; an estimated 34,130 men will die of prostate cancer this year. One in eight men will be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lives. The risk increases with age, and the cancer is more common in Black men.

Last year the National Cancer Center (NCC) launched the Prostate Cancer Project.  NCC awarded its first $40,000 of a two-year grant in 2021-22 to Varadha B Venkadakrishnan, Ph.D. at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, MA. With substantial progress demonstrated, Varadha will receive a second grant for $42,000 next year. NCC increased its grant monies in 2021-22 by 21%, to a total of $658,000.

Varadha’s project studies treatment resistance to anti-androgen hormone therapies whereby cancer cells change their “identity” and start to look less and less like cancer cells; a process called “lineage plasticity.”  This project will define the mechanisms underlying “lineage plasticity” in order to develop novel therapeutic interventions to block or reverse treatment resistance in prostate cancer.