Researchers develop new treatment for low-risk prostate cancer using drug made from deep sea bacteria

29 December 2016

Researchers have found a new treatment for low-risk prostate cancer, which can the cancer with no debilitating side effects. 

The Lancet Oncology reported that the cancer could be successfully treated using a combination of laser therapy and a drug made from deep-sea bacteria that had no exposure to light.

Traditional treatments (including surgery and radiotherapy) had severe side effects, including impotence and incontinence.

In trials on 413 men, around half of study participants were found to have no remaining trace of cancer by the end of the study period.

During trials at 47 hospitals, 49 per cent of patients left the treatment in remission, with only 6 per cent of patients needing further surgical intervention, as against 30 per cent of patients who were merely monitored.

The treatment involved 10 fibre optic lasers penetrating the perineum and embedding in the cancerous prostate gland. The drug is activated when the laser is switched on.

The drug kills the cancer leaving the healthy prostate behind.

Professor Mark Emberton, who worked on the trials, said: 'Traditionally the decision to have treatment has always been a balance of benefits and harms, The Spectator reported.

"The harms have always been the side effects - urinary incontinence and sexual difficulties in the majority of men."

The Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel and Luxembourg-based biotechnology company STEBA Biotech developed the therapy, while the trials were led by University College London. 

Professor Emberton likened the finding to breast cancer research which reduced the need for mastectomies.  

"In 1975 almost everyone with breast cancer was given a radical mastectomy, but since then treatments have steady improved and we now rarely need to remove the whole breast,' he said, The Daily Mail reported.

"In prostate cancer we are still commonly removing or irradiating the whole prostate, so the success of this new tissue-preserving treatment is welcome news indeed." 

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