New Prostate Cancer Drug to Be Tested

Researchers looking for males with high-risk cancers

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WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Cancer researchers at several sites across the United States are seeking male volunteers newly diagnosed with high-risk prostate cancer, who are also candidates for surgery, to take part in a clinical trial on an experimental drug.

The molecularly targeted drug called CCI779 may interrupt the signal that drives prostate cancer and may keep the disease from recurring. It's been successfully tested in laboratory and animal models.

Researchers at the Jonsson Cancer Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, believe the drug targets a gene called mTOR. In laboratory studies, the researchers found some men with prostate cancer have lost the tumor-suppressor gene called PTEN.

In some prostate cancer patients who have lost PTEN, the mTOR gene gets switched on and may be driving the cancer.

"We discovered that tumors missing PTEN seem to be very responsive to CCI779, and it's very clear at a molecular biology level why," Jonsson scientist Dr. Charles Sawyer says in a prepared statement.

"When you've lost PTEN, mTOR activity gets turned up and tumors become dependent on it for their growth. So a drug that inhibits mTOR should impact the tumor cells but have no effect on the normal cells," Sawyer says.

The Jonsson Cancer Center, the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, and the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia are among the sites taking part in the study.

Study volunteers will receive CCI779 for eight weeks before surgery, when their prostate will be removed. The researchers will then study tumor samples to determine if the drug in fact hit its target.

The volunteers will be monitored for cancer recurrence and have their PSA levels measured.

You can get more information about the study by phoning 310-825-4415.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about prostate cancer.

SOURCE: University of California, Los Angeles, news release, December 2003


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