New trial of prostate cancer breakthrough

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ANZUP Cancer Trials Group and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia have launched the first Australian trial of a ground-breaking nuclear medicine treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer.

The groups acknowledged the impact of recent advances on treatment but highlighted the fact castrate resistant metastatic disease remains incurable and is the leading cause of cancer related mortality amongst men in developed countries.

The trial will assess a new approach that has been developed to deliver 'cancer-killing' radioactive atoms directly and specifically to areas of advanced prostate cancer. This approach has shown some positive early signs in patients involved in a pilot study led by associate professor Michael Hofman of Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.   

Associate professor Hofman has secured funding from PCFA to lead an ANZUP trial of 200 patients at centres across Australia and New Zealand in what he believes could be a game-changer in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.   

“What sets this approach apart is that it identifies cancers that have the target, delivers the radiation directly to those cells, and gives us a way to visualise what happens as a result. This allows for a truly individual, targeted therapy,” he said.

The treatment involves two distinct parts.

A PET scan is used to ‘map’ the cancer by injecting a radioactive molecule called gallium-68 attached to a small molecule that rapidly localises to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) on the surface of prostate cancer cells in the body. The result is the cancer cells ‘light up’, showing exactly where the disease is, and enabling identification of patients that may benefit from the new therapy.

A different radioactive molecule – Lutetium 177 – is then attached to the same type of small molecule injected into the patient. It travels through the body, directly targeting cancer cells that have high levels of PSMA.

According to PCFA CEO, associate professor Anthony Lowe, “As the peak national body for prostate cancer, PCFA is committed to improving outcomes for men with prostate cancer. We are delighted to partner with ANZUP to trial this innovative new treatment at centres across Australia and New Zealand. We believe this research could put Australia at the forefront of advanced prostate cancer treatment. I would also like to acknowledge the funding support of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride,Movember and It’s a Bloke Thing in helping to make this important trial a reality.”