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The pill that uses the patient’s genes to target tumors will revolutionize prostate cancer treatment

Breast cancer pill that uses the genetic make-up of the patient to fight tumors will revolutionize prostate treatment and extend thousands of lives

  • The daily pill would work in 80 percent of the cases of men with certain genes
  • This one can benefit up to 4k men every year, making the disease deadly
  • Despite the rapid progress in other types of cancer, the number of British men dying from prostate cancer is increasing and now stands at 11,800

The first personalized drug for prostate cancer will radically change treatment and extend the lives of thousands of people.

Of a daily pill that uses a patient’s genetic make-up to undermine tumor defenses, 80 percent of men would work with certain genes.

Experts believe that the treatment – which is already available for ovarian cancer – can help up to 4,000 men each year, delaying the time when the disease becomes fatal.

The British study, presented at the world’s largest cancer conference, paved the way for the first personalized – or “precision” – drug for prostate cancer.

Of a daily pill that uses a patient's genetic make-up to undermine tumor defenses, 80 percent of men would work with certain genes (stock image)

Of a daily pill that uses a patient’s genetic make-up to undermine tumor defenses, 80 percent of men would work with certain genes (stock image)

These target cancers according to genetic composition, instead of the ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to chemotherapy and hormone therapy.

The Daily Mail is campaigning to improve the treatment and diagnosis of prostate cancer, which is lagging behind other diseases such as breast cancer.

Despite the rapid progress in other types of cancer, the number of British men dying from prostate cancer is increasing and now stands at 11,800 a year.

Scientists led by the London Institute of Cancer Research followed 100 men with advanced prostate cancer who could not have cured the disease with other treatments.

The new drug, called olaparib, slowed disease progression in those who responded for an average of 8.3 months – and 35 percent stopped spreading the cancer for more than a year.

The pill is not a cure – and so far only the cancer freezes in its spores – but researchers are convinced that further studies will also show that it can give dying men extra years. Professor Johann de Bono, who spoke at the annual conference of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, said: “Our study shows how powerful genetic targeting and precision medicine can be. By testing for DNA repair mutations, we can select those patients with a high chance of responding well to olaparib.

Scientists led by the London Institute of Cancer Research followed 100 men with advanced prostate cancer who could not have cured the disease with other treatments (stock image)

Scientists led by the London Institute of Cancer Research followed 100 men with advanced prostate cancer who could not have cured the disease with other treatments (stock image)

Scientists led by the London Institute of Cancer Research followed 100 men with advanced prostate cancer who could not have cured the disease with other treatments (stock image)

“Generally, one in three and one in four men with deadly prostate cancer – that means 3,000 or 4,000 men a year in the UK would benefit.”

In rare cases, he said that men had survived the drug for ten years. “We see that many men use them for more than a year,” he said. Experts are enthusiastic about the findings – and four larger trials are underway.

If, as expected, these results are successful, the drug can be used by the NHS within two years. The treatments use a weakness in the defense of cancer cells to kill a tumor without damaging healthy cells. The drug, which costs £ 3,550 per month, was made available on the NHS three years ago for ovarian cancer and should soon be used for breast cancer.

But it was only through the persistence of Professor De Bono – and charity financing – that the same investigations were started for prostate cancer.

“[It] has no priority by the pharmaceutical companies – it’s really the Cinderella, “he said. Experts welcomed the findings. Professor Ian Davis of Monash University in Melbourne said: “Prostate cancer is years behind with targeted treatments. Treatments such as olaparib seem the best shot to close that gap. “

Paul Villanti, from the Movember charity, said, “It’s very exciting to see existing treatments again for the benefit of men.”

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