New drug combination attacks prostate cancer on two fronts to keep men healthy for longer
Men with particularly aggressive prostate cancers can be treated more effectively by combining an existing targeted medicine, abiraterone, with a new experimental drug to block two of cancer’s growth signals at once, a major new trial has shown.
Around half of men with advanced prostate cancer have tumours with faulty PTEN genes and this group of patients tend to have a particularly poor prognosis. This new phase III trial could open up the combination treatment as a new targeted approach to keep these patients healthy for longer, potentially benefitting more than 10,000 men per year in the UK.
The ipatasertib and abiraterone combination was also associated with greater and longer-lasting PSA response rates – used to monitor prostate cancer progression – in patients both with and without PTEN.
The drug combination works by simultaneously switching off two powerful growth signals that fuel prostate cancer. Abiraterone blocks signalling of the male hormone androgen receptor, while ipatasertib blocks another set of tumour growth signals involving the protein AKT.
Study leader Professor Johann de Bono, Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden and Professor of Experimental Cancer Medicine at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said:
“We have shown that combining an existing and a new drug to attack cancer on two different fronts can keep men with prostate cancer healthier for longer. The findings offer a promising new treatment option for patients with a common and aggressive type of prostate cancer and could eventually change clinical practice for these men.
“PTEN is one of the most commonly deleted genes in prostate cancer, so this study offers hope to many patients.”
Peter Hartley, 68, from Market Harborough, has been receiving treatment at The Royal Marsden through the IPATential150 trial for three years, following his prostate cancer diagnosis. Being on this research trial has seen Peter’s prostate specific antigen (PSA) levels drop rapidly, reducing the size of his tumours and enabling him to keep living a healthy life. Peter said:
“When I was first diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in June 2015, they told me there was nothing they could do and I would only have two to three years left, this was before I came to The Royal Marsden. Following a course of chemotherapy, I joined Professor De Bono’s research trial and for the past three years I’ve been given a new lease of life. Being on this trial has been nothing short of a miracle, I’ve had no side effects and my quality of life is fantastic.
“I feel so privileged and lucky to have this opportunity, to stay as healthy as possible for as long as possible. I’m monitored closely by my medical teams and have regular hospital checks which is reassuring. The nurses and doctors are amazing and can’t do enough for you. Thanks to the success of this treatment, I can continue doing the things I love like spending time with my wife, children and 3 grandchildren, visiting the Lake District and enjoying my golf, tennis and hiking!”
The IPATential150 trial was funded by Roche.