New cancer drugs can overcome drug resistance in prostate cancer

prostate cancer

In a new study, researchers find that men with aggressive prostate cancer that has stopped responding to conventional treatment could potentially benefit from a new class of cancer drug designed to overcome drug resistance.

The drugs, called Hsp90 inhibitors, can specifically target and inactivate a mechanism commonly used by prostate cancer cells to evade the effects of standard treatment.

The findings provide vital information about the role of Hsp90 in drug-resistant prostate cancers, and open up potential new routes to cancer treatment based on blocking this or related proteins.

A team at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, found that Hsp90 inhibitors countered the effect of malfunctions in the androgen receptor, which often occur in resistance to hormone treatment.

The research suggests that Hsp90 inhibitors could be effective in prostate cancers that have become resistant to treatment and started spreading round the body.

The study is published in the journal Cancer Research, and was mainly funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Researchers call Hsp90 inhibitors ‘network drugs’ because they tackle several of the signals that are hijacked in cancer all at once, across a network rather than just a single signalling pathway.

These drugs can hit cancer harder than those targeting only one protein, and look promising for preventing or overcoming drug resistance.

Researchers suggest that this is an exciting discovery, which adds a string to the bow of these cancer drugs, and means they could work against prostate cancers that have otherwise stopped responding to treatment.

These drugs are already in clinical trials for several types of cancer, and they are excited that the work suggests they could also benefit men with prostate cancer who have otherwise run out of treatment options.

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News source: The Institute of Cancer Research.
Figure legend: This image is credited to Professor Johann de Bono.