British scientists have announced that Olaparib, the first drug that targets precise genetic mutations in prostate cancer, has been shown to be effective in a “milestone” trial.
The study, at the Institute of Cancer Research in London, took place on 49 men with untreatable cancer.
Olaparib had low overall success, but slowed tumor growth in 88% of patients with specific DNA mutations.
Cancer Research UK said the trial was exciting.
Olaparib, the first marketed drug to tackle inherited cancer mutations, was licensed in 2014 for women with ovarian cancer who have faulty BRCA genes.
The future of cancer medicine is treating cancers by their mutated DNA rather than what part of the body they are in.
The breast cancer drug Herceptin is already used only in patients with specific mutations. Olaparib targets mutations that change the way DNA is repaired.
The trial results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed the drug worked in 14 out of 16 men with such mutations.
Levels of Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is produced by tumors, was more than halved and there were also significant falls in the number of prostate cancer cells detected in the blood and in the size of secondary tumors.
Patients responded to the drug for between six months and nearly a year and a half.
Prostate cancer is the fifth most deadly type of cancer in men.
However, a larger clinical trial is needed before doctors can say if the drug extends life expectancy.
Animal tests suggested that Botox injections may help fight cancer.
The new study, published in Science Translational Medicine, showed nerves help stomach cancers grow.
Research on mice found that using the toxin beloved by those seeking a wrinkle-free face to kill nerves could halt the growth of stomach tumors and make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy.
Botox is usually used in the fight against the signs of ageing, not cancer.
The toxin disrupts nerve function to relax muscles and even out wrinkles, but a growing body of work suggests nerves can also help fuel cancer growth.
Scientists Columbia University Medical Centre, in New York, and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim investigated the role of the vagus nerve – which runs from the brain to the digestive system – in stomach cancer.
Research on mice found that using Botox to kill nerves could halt the growth of stomach tumors and make them more vulnerable to chemotherapy
Either cutting the nerve or using the toxin Botox slowed the growth of tumors or made them more responsive to chemotherapy.
Dr. Timothy Wang, one of the scientists in the study, said: “If you just cut nerves is it going to cure cancer? Probably not.
“At least in early phase, if you [disrupt the nerve] the tumor becomes much more responsive to chemotherapy, so we don’t see this as a single cure, but making current and future treatments more effective.”
Some trials have started in people who are having surgery to remove a stomach cancer. There has also been research suggesting nerves may have a role in prostate cancer too.
However, Dr. Timothy Wang acknowledged that there was a long way to go before this could be considered a treatment.
“With everything new in cancer, even if it looks great, when you start to roll it out to patients it always seems cancer is smarter than we are.
“Tumors have the ability to out-evolve any single agent, knocking one leg of a stool is probably not going to topple it.
“But I think this has a lot of potential and in a decade or two I can see these pathways being targeted.”
A new research found that naturally red-headed men are 54% less likely to develop prostate cancer as those with blond, brown or black hair.
Why hair color should be such a powerful influence on cancer risk is not clear.
Scientists behind the findings, published online in the British Journal of Cancer, think it might be to do with the way genes that dictate hair pigmentation also influence tumor development.
Britain has some of the largest numbers of ginger-haired people per head of population. Globally, the figure is 1-2%, but it is 13% in Scotland, 10% in Ireland and 6% in England.
Previous studies have hinted that having red hair affects health in other ways.
Red-headed men are 54 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer
Scientists at Louisville University in Kentucky, found ginger-haired people feel pain and the cold more than everybody else because their pain threshold may be partly dictated by the same gene that sets their hair color – MC1R.
Red-heads, being fair skinned, are also known to be more at risk of skin cancer.
Researchers from Finland’s National Institute for Health and Medicine, in Helsinki, and the US National Cancer Institute, based in Maryland, wanted to see if the same genetic factors also influenced a man’s chances of prostate cancer.
The researchers looked at 20,000 men aged 50 to 69 who were recruited to a long-term health study in the late 1980s.
Among the data collected were records of what color their hair was aged 20.
Researchers found that 1,982 men went on to develop prostate cancer.
Researchers stressed that only 1% of the men studied had red hair, compared to more than 40% with light brown hair.
Scientists think it is possible that the MC1R gene may help to control the way some cells divide and grow
A new study has found that skin patches which deliver oestrogen into the blood may be a cheaper and safer treatment for prostate cancer than current therapies.
The main treatment is injections of a chemical to cut levels of testosterone – the driving force of many prostate cancers – but it causes side effects.
The Imperial College London study in the Lancet Oncology compared patches and injections in 254 patients.
It found patches were safe and should avoid menopause-like side effects.
Using oestrogen to treat prostate cancer is an old treatment.
Both oestrogen and testosterone are very similar chemically, so ramping up the levels of oestrogen in the body can reduce the amount of testosterone produced – and slow prostate cancer growth.
Skin patches which deliver oestrogen into the blood may be a cheaper and safer treatment for prostate cancer than current therapies
However, taking oral oestrogen pills caused significant health problems by overdosing the liver. The organ then produced chemicals which caused blood clots, heart attacks and strokes.
The preferred treatment is injections of a drug, LHRHa, which reduces the production of both oestrogen and testosterone. However, this has side effects similar to the menopause in women – resulting in poor bone health and diabetes.
Prof. Paul Abel, from Imperial College London, said: “We’re not claiming this is equivalent to current therapies yet, but it does look like we are getting castration levels of testosterone.”
However, the researchers need to follow patients for longer.
“The next step is to test if the oestrogen patches are as effective at stopping the growth of prostate cancer as the current hormone treatments, we’re now testing this in over 600 patients.”
Experts have found that a blood test that reads genetic results like a barcode can pick out the most aggressive prostate cancers.
The test, which looks at the signature pattern of genes switched on and off in blood cells triggered by the tumor, can sort the “tigers” from the “pussycats”.
London’s Institute of Cancer Research trialled the test in 94 patients.
The findings are published in the Lancet Oncology medical journal.
Prostate cancer is a very diverse disease – some people live with it for years without symptoms, but for others it can be aggressive and life-threatening.
Currently, doctors take a small sample of the tumor – a biopsy – to examine under a microscope to get a better idea of how dangerous
Experts hope that ultimately the barcode blood test could be used to make a more accurate estimation.
In the study, the scientists were able to split the patients into four groups based on the results of the barcode test. One of these groups fared far worse, surviving for significantly less time than the other patients.
The researchers then confirmed their findings in another 70 US patients with advanced cancer, which revealed that nine genes could accurately spot who had the least chance of survival.
Patients with this “bad” gene signature survived for an average of nine months compared with 21 months for those without it.
US researchers at the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute and the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre have also been testing a similar prostate cancer blood test.
Their six-gene test could split patients into high and low risk groups.
Prostate cancer is the most common male cancer in the UK, accounting for almost a quarter of male cancers.
Each year, nearly 35,000 men are diagnosed and more than 10,000 die from the disease.
A couple of hamburgers a week could increase the chances of getting prostate cancer by 40%, according to new a research.
Scientists say cooking meat at a high temperatures creates cancer causing chemicals that damage DNA.
A study of almost 2,000 men found prostate cancer cases rose dramatically in those who often ate meat cooked in a pan, with red meat being particularly dangerous.
Professor Mariana Stern, of the University of Southern California, said: “We found men who ate more than 1.5 servings of pan-fried red meat per week increased their risk of advanced prostate cancer by 30%.
“In addition, men who ate more than 2.5 servings of red meat cooked at high temperatures were 40% more likely to have advanced prostate cancer.”
A study of almost 2,000 men found prostate cancer cases rose dramatically in those who often ate meat cooked in a pan, with red meat being particularly dangerous
The carcinogens at the centre of the scare are known as HCAs (heterocyclic amines) and PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons).
HCAs form when protein is cooked at high temperatures for a long time, while PAHs occur when fat from the meat drips onto an open flame creating smoke that deposits the chemicals on the meat.
There is strong experimental evidence that HCAs and PAHs contribute to certain cancers, including prostate cancer.
When considering specific types of red meats hamburgers, but not steak, were linked to an increased risk of prostate cancer, especially among Hispanic men.
Prof. Mariana Stern, whose research was published in the online journal Carcinogenisis, said: “We speculate these findings are a result of different levels of carcinogen accumulation found in hamburgers, given that they can attain higher internal and external temperatures faster than steak.”
The participants, more than 1,000 of whom had advanced prostate cancer, answered questionnaires about their red meat and poultry consumption. They were also asked to photograph their cooking methods and how charred their meat was.
The researchers said the study, published online in the journal Carcinogenesis, provides important new evidence on how red meat and its cooking practices may increase the risk for prostate cancer.
Previous studies have emphasized an association between diets high in red meat and risk of prostate cancer, but proof is limited.
But attention to cooking methods shows the disease may be a result of potent chemical carcinogens formed when meat is cooked at a high temperature.
The researchers also found the men who ate baked poultry had a lower risk of prostate cancer, but those who pan fried it had a higher risk.
Prof. Mariana Stern said pan-frying, regardless of meat type, consistently led to an increased risk of prostate cancer. The same pattern was evident in her previous research which found fish cooked at high temperatures, particularly pan-fried, increased the risk of prostate cancer.
The researchers do not know why pan-frying poses a higher risk for prostate cancer, but they suspect it is due to the formation of the DNA-damaging HCAs during the cooking of red meat and poultry.
She added: “The observations from this study alone are not enough to make any health recommendations but given the few modifiable risk factors known for prostate cancer, the understanding of dietary factors and cooking methods are of high public health relevance.”
According to new research, men who are heavy tea drinkers may be more likely to develop prostate cancer.
A team from Glasgow University tracked the health of more than 6,000 male volunteers over a period of 37 years.
They found men who drank over seven cups of tea per day had a 50% higher risk of developing prostate cancer than moderate and non tea drinkers.
The team said it did not know if tea was a risk factor or if drinkers lived to ages where cancer was more common.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in Scotland and diagnosed cases increased by 7.4% between 2000 and 2010.
The Midspan Collaborative study began in Scotland in 1970 and gathered data from 6,016 male volunteers, all aged between 21 and 75.
Volunteers were asked to complete a questionnaire about their usual consumption of tea, coffee, alcohol, smoking habits and general health, and attended a screening examination.
Just under a quarter of the men included in the study were heavy tea drinkers.
Of these, 6.4% developed prostate cancer during a follow-up of up to 37 years.
Researchers found that men who drank more than seven cups of tea per day had a significantly increased risk of prostate cancer compared to those who drank no tea or less than four cups per day.
Men who drank over seven cups of tea per day had a 50 percent higher risk of developing prostate cancer than moderate and non tea drinkers
The study was led by Dr. Kashif Shafique of Glasgow University’s Institute of Health and Wellbeing.
He said: “Most previous research has shown either no relationship with prostate cancer for black tea or some preventive effect of green tea.
“We don’t know whether tea itself is a risk factor or if tea drinkers are generally healthier and live to an older age when prostate cancer is more common anyway.”
“We found that heavy tea drinkers were more likely not to be overweight, be non alcohol-drinkers and have healthy cholesterol levels.
“However, we did adjust for these differences in our analysis and still found that men who drank the most tea were at greater risk of prostate cancer.”
Chris Garner, a member of Edinburgh and Lothian Prostate Cancer Support Group, said the research would not stop him drinking tea.
He has adopted a healthier diet since being diagnosed with prostate cancer 10 years ago and drinks green tea.
Chris Garner said: “As usual you get evidence on one side and you get evidence on the other and you’re left in the middle trying to decide who’s right but I have to say, I don’t think tea is very high on the agenda if you’re looking at diet, lifestyle and so on.
“There are other things which come well above tea.”
Dr. Kate Holmes, head of research at the Prostate Cancer Charity, said: “Whilst it does appear that – of the 6,000 men who took part in this study – those who drank seven or more cups of tea each day had an increased risk of developing prostate cancer, this did not take into consideration family history or any other dietary elements other than tea, coffee and alcohol intake.
“We would therefore not wish any man to be concerned that drinking a moderate amount of tea as part of a healthy diet will put them at an increased risk of developing prostate cancer.”
The findings of the study have been published in the journal Nutrition and Cancer.
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