An experimental prostate cancer drug has been shown to slow the disease's progression and lead to longer life, especially among men whose cancer has spread to the bones.
According an analysis led by the Duke Cancer Institute, the drug tasquinimod could become a new way to treat advanced and recurrent prostate cancer.
The study, published in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, noted the drug developed by Active Biotech in partnership with Ipsen is an oral therapy that boosts the body's immune system to fight cancer. The new findings are based on a trial of the drug involving more than 200 men, nearly two-thirds of whom took the drug, while the rest took an inactive placebo.
The results showed tasquinimod arrested the progression of cancer in the men who took it, for an average of 7.6 months, compared with 3.3 months for placebo. Men whose cancer had already metastasized to their bones and took tasquinimod remained progression-free for even longer – 8.8 months, compared with 3.4 months for placebo.
"While all subgroups in the clinical trial benefited from tasquinimod, those whose cancer metastasized to their bones had the greatest benefit in terms of delaying the time from the start of treatment to when the cancer progressed," said lead researcher Andrew J. Armstrong, M.D., associate professor of medicine at the Duke Cancer Institute. "This group of men also seemed to have a longer survival benefit when we followed them over several years."
Men participating in the study who took tasquinimod survived 33.4 months on average, versus 30.4 months with placebo. But those whose cancer had already metastasized to their bones survived an average of 34.2 months, compared with 27.1 months for placebo.
Researchers believe the drug blocks the growth of blood vessels that feed tumor growth and may also the function of so-called myeloid-derived suppressor cells, which are found in increased numbers in cancer patients.
"By delaying the onset of symptoms or growth of metastatic tumors, tasquinimod may allow men to put off other treatments, such as chemotherapy, and maintain a high quality of life," Armstrong said. "That's an important goal for many patients and providers."
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