March 8, 2009

Novel Agent May Be Effective in Blocking Hormones in Prostate Cancer


</p> <p>Novel Agent May Be Effective in Blocking Hormones in Prostate Cancer</p> <p>

The novel agent abiraterone, which is still in early-phase clinical trials, may provide anti-cancer responses in patients whose prostate cancer progressed following androgen deprivation therapy. These results were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Prostate cancer is stimulated to grow from the male hormone testosterone, most of which is produced in the testicles. Thus, patients with prostate cancer may undergo the surgical removal of the testicles (castration), or undergo treatment with agents that block the male hormone testosterone from forming (androgen deprivation therapy). Patients whose cancer continues to progress despite castration or androgen deprivation therapy are left with few effective therapeutic options; therefore, researchers continue to evaluate novel approaches for treatment of these patients.

Researchers from the United Kingdom recently conducted an early-phase clinical trial to evaluate the novel agent abiraterone acetate among 21 prostate cancer patients whose cancer progressed following prior androgen deprivation therapies. Abiraterone acetate inhibits the protein cytochrome P 17 which is involved in the production of male hormones.

Results from the trial included changes in the levels of the prostate specific antigens (PSA)-proteins shed by the prostate into the blood. Levels of PSA are indicative of the progression of prostate cancer, with higher levels associated with greater progression of the cancer.

• Reduction of PSA levels was observed in up to two-thirds of patients.

• Regression of the cancer was observed on scans of some patients.

The researchers concluded that abiraterone is associated with a reduction in PSA levels in a significant portion of patients; however, further studies are necessary to determine if abiraterone improves outcomes in these patients. Patients with prostate cancer that has progressed following prior therapies may wish to speak with their physician regarding their individual risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating abiraterone or other promising therapeutic approaches. Two sources of information regarding ongoing clinical trials include the National Cancer Institute ( and

Reference: Attard G, Reid A, Yap T, et al. Phase I Clinical Trial of a Selective Inhibitor of CYP17, Abiraterone Acetate, Confirms That Castration-Resistant Prostate Cancer Commonly Remains Hormone Driven. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Early on-line release. July 2008. DOI: 10.1200/JCO.2007.15.9749.

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