Top 10 Prostate Cancer Stories of 2018

Top 10 Prostate Cancer Stories of 2018
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Prostate Cancer News Today provided readers with daily coverage of important discoveries, potential blood tests and disease markers, as well as treatment developments related to prostate cancer during 2018.

We look forward to reporting more news to patients, family members and caregivers during 2019.

Here are the Top 10 most-read stories of 2018, with a brief description of what made them interesting for the prostate cancer community.

No. 10 – “Focal Ultrasound Prostate Ablation Shows Promising Results with Fewer Side Effects

A procedure called high-intensity focal ultrasound (HIFU) — partial ablation of the prostate — led to a significant drop in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in a study with 50 prostate cancer patients, It also had fewer side effects than traditional surgery and radiation therapy. HIFU, which removes the diseased tissue only, also led to absence of cancer tissue in the targeted area as assessed via biopsy. However, scores of urinary symptoms and quality of life went back to baseline 3-6 months after HIFU in 78% of patients. Also, 85% of patients maintained erectile function, while 15% had erectile dysfunction at 12 months.

No. 9 – “ProscaVax Reduced Tumor Growth in 70% of Prostate Cancer Patients, Early-stage Study Shows

In January, we published the first of three stories about OncBioMune‘s investigational cancer vaccine ProscaVax. This immunotherapy candidate consists in a combination of the PSA protein with two molecules produced by immune cells called interleukin-2 and GM-CSF. Results of a Phase 1a/1b clinical trial (NCT02058680) showed that intradermal (in the skin) injections of ProscaVax reduced tumor growth in 70% of patients, which lasted for at least 31 weeks. Also at 31 weeks, 15 of 18 patients had increased immune responses against PSA-producing cells.

No. 8 – “Yonsa, New Formulation of Abiraterone Acetate, Approved for Advanced Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer

In May, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Yonsa in combination with methylprednisolone for men with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC). Yonsa is a formulation of abiraterone acetate, an already-approved hormone therapy for men with advanced CRPC, sold under the brand name Zytiga (by Janssen Biotech). The new formulation was developed by Sun Pharma and Churchill Pharmaceuticals. It contains smaller sized particles of abiraterone acetate, which increases the amount reaching the blood. A Phase 2 trial (NCT02737332) had shown that Yonsa enabled the same degree of testosterone reduction at half the dose of Zytiga.

No. 7 – “Androgen Deprivation Therapy Can Make Prostate Cancer More Aggressive, Study Finds

Androgen deprivation therapy (ADT) is a well-known treatment for prostate cancer, but a new study revealed it may lead to the transformation of prostate cancer cells into a more aggressive type resistant to treatment. In particular, ADT changed the epigenetics — changes in gene expression rather than in the gene itself — of fibroblasts from prostate cancer patients, which induced some adenocarcinoma cells (the most common type of prostate cancer) to become rarer neuroendocrine cancer cells, which are more aggressive and more resistant to therapy. However, the team found that measuring blood levels of the amino acid glutamine — produced by cancer-associated fibroblasts in response to ADT — may help predict when resistance will occur.

No. 6 – “Side Effects of Prostate Cancer Therapy Cause High Emotional Distress, Study Confirms

Side effects of prostate cancer treatment and their association with emotional distress were the subject of one of our top 10 articles. The scientists found that the extent of urinary, sexual, and bowel dysfunction correlated with the level of emotional distress in men who underwent surgery or radiation therapy. In turn, patients with high emotional distress tended to experience worse urinary, bowel, and sexual functioning at later timepoints.

No. 5 – “Phase 3 Trial Testing Darolutamide in Castration-resistant Prostate Cancer Expected to Conclude in September

In April, we reported Orion’s announcement that the ARAMIS Phase 3 trial (NCT02200614) of darolutamide (ODM-201) as a treatment for CRPC patients at high risk for metastasis was expected to conclude last September. ARAMIS is the result of a collaboration between Orion and Bayer to develop darolutamide, an investigational androgen receptor inhibitor. The trial’s primary goal is to evaluate whether the treatment candidate enables a longer period without metastasis compared to placebo. The effecgt on survival, skeletal problems, need for chemotherapy, amount of time to pain worsening, and the therapy’s safety and tolerability also will be evaluated.

No. 4 – “Chinese Study Links High Vitamin D Levels to Greater Risk of Prostate Cancer

High levels of the major circulating form of vitamin D (25[OH]D) are associated with high risk of prostate cancer, according to a literature review of 19 studies. The team found that each 10 ng/ml increase in 25[OH]D levels increased prostate cancer risk by 4%. However, the investigators cautioned that more research is still needed to determine if the link exists in distinct ethnicities.

No. 3 – “First Patient Advanced Prostate Cancer Treated with Harpoon Therapeutics’ HPN424

The treatment of the first metastatic CRPC patient in a Phase 1 trial of Harpoon Therapeutics’ immunotherapy candidate HPN424 was #3 in our top 10. HPN424 is an antibody that binds the binds the PSMA protein — found in more than 90% of metastatic CRPC lesions — and the CD3 molecule on immune T-cells. The therapy is intended to penetrate solid tumors with superior effectiveness, last longer in the blood, and recruit T-cells to kill malignant cancer cells. The study (NCT03577028) will explore the safety, tolerability and pharmacokinetics (a compound’s absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion) of HPN424 in adult patients. Patient recruitment is ongoing; more information on contacts and locations may be seen  here.

No. 2 – “Noninvasive Blood Test Enables Early Detection of Prostate Cancer, Study Suggests

Our second-most-read story described a new noninvasive blood test that detected prostate cancer in patients with inconclusive PSA tests. Also, CellMax Life’s test that  measures circulating tumor cells (CTCs) in the blood, provided a 90% reduction in the number of unnecessary biopsies, which may lead to fever, infection, and bleeding. Of note, CTCs are cancer cells that escaped from a primary tumor into the bloodstream and are a key factor in metastasis. The study, which included 200 adults, further showed that the test had a sensitivity of 80% and a specificity above 90%. The company aims to market the test for $150, far less than the $400-$1,000 price of current tests.

No. 1 – “Consuming Alcohol After Prostate Cancer Diagnosis is Detrimental, Canadian Study Says

The most-read article of 2018 showed that drinking alcohol after being diagnosed with prostate cancer is associated with lower prostate cancer-specific survival, particularly in men who consume more than two drinks per day. The Canadian study included 829 patients diagnosed with invasive prostate cancer from 1997 to 2000. Having more than two drinks per day was associated with a 45% increased risk of all-cause death compared to drinking less, as well as an 82% greater risk of prostate cancer-specific mortality compared to not drinking and 61% compared to light drinkers.

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At Prostate Cancer News Today, we hope these stories and our reporting throughout 2019 contribute to informing and improving the lives of everyone affected by the disease.

We wish all our readers a happy 2019.

José is a science news writer with a PhD in Neuroscience from Universidade of Porto, in Portugal. He has also studied Biochemistry at Universidade do Porto and was a postdoctoral associate at Weill Cornell Medicine, in New York, and at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. His work has ranged from the association of central cardiovascular and pain control to the neurobiological basis of hypertension, and the molecular pathways driving Alzheimer’s disease.
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José is a science news writer with a PhD in Neuroscience from Universidade of Porto, in Portugal. He has also studied Biochemistry at Universidade do Porto and was a postdoctoral associate at Weill Cornell Medicine, in New York, and at The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, Canada. His work has ranged from the association of central cardiovascular and pain control to the neurobiological basis of hypertension, and the molecular pathways driving Alzheimer’s disease.
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