Radiation and drugs have been tried for decades against the spread of prostate cancer. Researchers in oncology are now testing new prostate cancer treatment agents. These include vaccines and drugs that would boost the body’s immune system against attack and spreading of prostate condition. New prostate cancer treatment is based on the development of vaccines through clinical trials. Some researchers use genetically modified viruses that carry an antigen that initiates the prostate condition. Injecting the patient with this virus causes the patient’s immune system to start destroying these cells by making special antibodies. In another approach, the patient’s dendritic cells (a type of immune cells), are taken from the blood and exposed to prostate cells. These dendritic cells are then returned into the patient’s body where they stimulate other immune cells to destroy the cancerous cells. Different types of vaccines have been developed by these new prostate cancer treatment methods, as described below.
Monoclonal Antibodies and Inhibitors
Vaccines containing monoclonal antibodies target specific molecules in the cancerous cells. They do this either by using their own radioactive molecule (called lutenium) or by activating the body’s natural mechanism to target cancerous cells. Endothelin is a natural substance that promotes the growth of prostate cancer cells. One of the new prostate cancer treatment approaches aims at inhibiting the effect of endothelin. Thus a drug called atrasentan has been developed which has proved effective to a significant degree in blocking the endothelin and checking the spread of prostate cancer.
Angiogenesis refers to the growth of blood vessels which is a source of nourishing the cancerous cells. So, one way of checking the prostate condition is preventing the growth of new blood vessels by means of anti-angiogenic drugs. Thalidomide and Lenalidomide are some of the drugs currently being tested for inhibiting angiogenesis while bevacizumab (branded as Avastin) has already been approved by the FDA. These drugs do have some side effects like constipation, drowsiness etc.
Targeted therapy is a new prostate cancer treatment that uses certain drugs to get attached to the cancerous cells and kill them. The site on which the drug molecule attaches itself to the target cancerous cell is called the receptor. The androgen receptor is an example of such site on cancerous cells.
Treatment of Bone Pain
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is a new technique being studied for treating bone pain that is suffered in prostate cancer patients, especially in advanced stages. The technique involves passing a high-frequency current to destroy the tumor by means of a small metal probe.