In a new study, researchers found that a novel formulation of the prostate cancer drug abiraterone acetate – currently marketed as Zytiga – will dramatically improve the quality of life for people suffering from prostate cancer.
They found the new formulation improves the drug’s effectiveness by 40%.
The breakthrough discovery uses an oil-based oral formulation that not only enables a smaller dose of the drug to be effective but also has the potential to dramatically reduce possible side effects, such as joint swelling and diarrhea.
Despite Zytiga being the leading formulation to treat prostate cancer, the new formulation will ultimately provide better treatment for patients with prostate cancer.
The research was conducted by a team at the University of South Australia.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in men, with one in six at risk of diagnosis before the age of 85.
In 2019, more than 19,500 cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in Australia. Globally, prostate cancer cases reached 1.28 million in 2018.
Many drugs are poorly water-soluble, so when they’re ingested, they enter the gut but don’t dissolve, which means that their therapeutic effect is limited.
This is the case for Zytiga. Here, only 10% of the dose is absorbed, leaving the other 90% undissolved, where it simply passes through the body as waste.
Patients taking Zytiga must fast for two hours prior to taking the drug, and another hour after taking the drug to achieve predictable absorption.
In the study, the new formulation changes this. By using oils to mimic pharmaceutical food effects, the team strongly increased the drug’s solubilization and absorption, making it more effective and far less invasive treatment for patients.
The new formulation uses very high levels of abiraterone acetate dissolved within a specific oil and encapsulated within porous silica microparticles to form a powder that can be made into tablets or filled into capsules.
Applied to human treatment, it could reduce the dose from 1000mg to 700mg per day, without the need for fasting.
The team says if the team can secure funding, clinical trials in humans could be just two years away.
This novel formulation is flexible enough to be adopted by thousands of different medicines; its potential to help patients of all kinds is exponential.
One author of the study is Professor Clive Prestidge at UniSA’s Cancer Research Institute.
The study is published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics.
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