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Published: 10 October 2017

New discovery could reduce recurrence of prostate cancer

Exciting new research, led by Surrey, could offer hope to thousands of males with prostate cancer and reduce the recurrence of the disease.

Scientists investigated the impact of anti-hormone therapy on samples taken from patients with prostate cancer. Anti-hormone therapy is a commonly prescribed treatment that uses medicines to block or lower the amount of hormones in the body to slow down or stop the growth of cancer

Researchers discovered that an inadvertent consequence of this treatment is the activation of the DNA repair enzyme, PARP. The triggering of PARP enables cancer cells to withstand anti-hormone therapy treatment, causing cells to cultivate and develop into a more aggressive form.

However the study found that prescribing PARP inhibitors, a drug commonly used in breast cancer, alongside anti-hormone therapy treatment, may benefit men with prostate cancer. PARP inhibitors prevent DNA repair causing cancer cells to die.

Lead author Dr Mohammad Asim, cancer biologist and Lecturer in Molecular Cancer Biology, said: “Prostate cancer is a devastating illness with a high death rate. Our exciting discovery will help remedy this and increase chances of survival for the thousands of men who contract the disease every year.

“Our research shows that anti-hormone treatment could be combined with PARP inhibitors to prevent the progression of the disease.”

Dr Catherine Pickworth, from Cancer Research UK, said: “This early stage study adds to the growing evidence that some men with prostate cancer could benefit from being given PARP inhibitors alongside hormone deprivation treatment.

“The next step is to carry out clinical trials to test if this treatment combination is safe to use in patients and if it helps more men survive the disease.”

Prostate cancer is the most common form of cancer in males with over 40,000 cases reported every year in the UK with 25 per cent of cases resulting in death. Latest figures from Prostate Cancer UK has found that 1 in 8 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime.