A new approach to prostate cancer treatment?

A new approach to prostate cancer treatment?


(uplifting music) – In order to beat your enemy you’ve got to understand it. And this is really where
the excitement is nowadays is we are getting closer and closer to better understanding the
enemy, which is the cancer. – Prostate cancer is a very common disease in the United States. The American Cancer
Society really estimates in 2012 that over 240,000 men will be diagnosed with
prostate cancer in the US. – [Maha] One is six men
could actually end up with prostate cancer, which means it could
be one of my relatives, it could be one of my neighbors. It’s the most common cancer
diagnosis in American men. – One of the conventional
treatments for prostate cancer is called hormonal treatment, and in general what this does is it slows down the
growth of prostate cancer. – Now one of the things
about prostate cancer, and in fact all cancers,
is that the cancer cells become smarter and smarter. The more they get injured or subjected to different treatments,
the smarter they become. – [Arul] Once prostate cancer
has spread or metastasized, it becomes very difficult to control, and oftentimes hormonal
treatment does not work. – It’s when the cancer
begins to become resistant to the hormone treatment is when the patients will end
up dying from that disease. – So it’s still a disease that requires new, innovative treatments. – For a long time we didn’t
have a good understanding on how it functions on the inside. So as we infiltrate the
cancer, so to speak, to try to dissect it at
a very molecular level, we are getting better
and better understanding of what really makes
that cancer cell eternal. What makes it come back,
what makes it live, what makes it die. – One of our most exciting discoveries was the discovery that over
50% of prostate cancers actually harbor a gene fusion, a gene that’s normally
turned on by hormones gets fused upstream of a gene that controls cell growth
and basically that leads to turning on that particular
gene that leads to cell growth, essentially leading to cancer. This fusion of two different genes that shouldn’t be together,
creating this hybrid gene, essentially is then a
hallmark of cancer in general. In this particular clinical trial we’ve identified a drug
that actually hits an enzyme that directly interacts
with the gene fusion, and that enzyme called PARP is actually required for the
gene fusion to cause cancer. By blocking the PARP enzyme, you’re essentially indirectly blocking the cancer-causing ability
of the gene fusion. – And that knowledge is what we’re trying to translate to patients. Without patients, you have no proof. The partnership and the
volunteering of patients is absolutely the most critical factor for the completion of
this particular study. – We really need patients
to participate in this trial in order for us to better
understand prostate cancer, to identify why certain patients respond to certain therapies
while others do not. – Key elements for eligibility is that men have to have metastatic cancer that is castration resistant, which means progressed
on hormone treatment. A critical factor is that
the men have to be willing to undergo a biopsy of metastatic area, which means a biopsy of
a bone or a lymph node or a liver or lung, if in fact there is cancer in those areas. The biopsy must have tumor in it because a critical factor
is assessing their cancer for the presence of the gene fusion, whether it’s present or absent. The patients are then assigned
one of two treatment groups. Half of them will get
the drug Abiraterone, which is a standard drug, and the other half of the
patients will end up getting Abiraterone plus another
drug called ABT 888. This particular drug
targets the repair enzymes that the cancer cells have in order to arm themselves
to continue to grow, so in essence, everybody gets treatment, everybody gets the standard treatment, and half of the patients
will end up getting the experimental drug
added to the standard drug. – What this will really allow us to do is to see if patients
that have the gene fusion behave differently to drugs than those that don’t
have the gene fusions. – So if it works, it actually means that we are going to be able to better control and better treat the cancer. This particular clinical trial and this particular scientific effort represents, I think, one
of the best-case scenarios of team science, team research, where the idea and its
application has started at the University of Michigan. There are a lot of smart people out there and we’ve partnered with them. 11 other comprehensive
cancer centers nationwide have elected to be part of
this particular clinical trial. – We’ve actually been
able to procure support from the Standup to Cancer Foundation, as well as the Prostate Cancer Foundation in support of the comprehensive sequencing of the biopsies that will be obtained from the patients that enroll
on this particular trial. – [Maha] Everyone is
focused on conquering cancer to save lives, reduce suffering, reduce pain, and hopefully cure cancer. That’s our ultimate goal. – By better understanding
the cause of prostate cancer, we’re very excited because
now we potentially have the ability to develop
therapies that actually go after the cause of the disease. – If the treatment really works well, then hopefully the pain and suffering that happens with the
disease may not happen for that particular patient, or if it’s going to happen,
it’s gonna be delayed. But there is also the big picture, and a lot of my patients
actually understand and in fact they voice it, they say, it may not help me but it may
help people in other places or my children or grandchildren. So there’s the sort of wanting to help and save the world, so to speak, attitude that patients have. That keeps us going, and that’s really why I am very passionate about not just taking care of patients, but also clinical research
and research in general, because I do believe that
research is what will cure cancer. Everyday there is progress
and it is possible. It is possible to make a
difference for patients. It is possible to make them live longer. It is possible to reduce
their pain and suffering. And we have cured some other cancers and I am convinced, it
may not be in my lifetime, but I hope in my lifetime that we can make a huge
difference in prostate cancer, and in fact, we’re already
seeing that happen. If you in fact have
advanced prostate cancer, and if you want to try a newer treatment, and if you wanna partner
with us to make a difference we would love to take care of you. (uplifting music)

Author:

3 thoughts on “A new approach to prostate cancer treatment?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *