New prostate cancer pill for advanced cases gives men new hope of survival

MIAMI — Scientists have developed a new pill for advanced prostate cancer that disrupts the tumor’s metabolism. This pill releases a potent medication into the weakened cells, leading to their destruction.

In experiments conducted on mice, a version of this pill, administered orally, significantly reduced the size of the cancerous growths. The pill contains the drug cisplatin, known for its effectiveness against several types of cancer, including testicular, breast, ovarian, bladder, lung, and head and neck tumors.

Until now, cisplatin has been ineffective against prostate cancer due to the development of resistance. Additionally, many aggressive prostate cancer cases also fail to respond to hormone therapy.

In an analysis of biopsies from 38 patients, it was found that prostate cancer cells thrive through a process known as fatty acid oxidation. Tests determined that a compound named Platin-L inhibits this process, leading to over a 50 percent reduction in tumor growth in cell lines.

“We believe Platin-L can circumvent these resistance mechanisms,” says Shanta Dhar, Ph.D., assistant director of Technology and Innovation at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, an associate professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, a researcher, co-leader of Engineering Cancer Cures, and the study’s senior author, in a media release.

Man holding a pill or medication in his hand
Photo by Towfiqu barbhuiya on Unsplash

The research team encapsulated Platin-L in nanoparticles constructed from a biocompatible polymer. In laboratory rodents, oral administration of this encapsulated compound led to a shrinkage in tumors. In contrast, tumors treated with either saline or cisplatin alone continued to grow.

Furthermore, mice treated with Platin-L maintained steady body weight and exhibited increased survival rates.

“We know that when this compound binds to CPT1A, it inhibits fat metabolism and is eventually transported to the mitochondria, where it damages mitochondrial DNA and helps overcome resistance,” Dhar says. “We are also making prostate cancer cells choose a less favorable metabolic pathway, which is insufficient to their needs, making it difficult for them to survive.”

“The impact of this current targeted metabolic modulation of the tumor microenvironment for advanced prostate cancer extends beyond this cancer type,” the authors report. “The reported mechanistic investigations will allow us to find the clues to make this platform more general to be used for cancers where these cellular pathways can be altered.”

According to the American Cancer Society, doctors will diagnose over 288,000 new cases of prostate cancer in American men in 2023 alone. More than 34,000 prostate cancer patients will die of the disease this year. Roughly one in eight men will get prostate cancer at some point in his lifetime. The most vulnerable population are men over the age of 50.

The study is published in ACS Central Science.

South West News Service writer Mark Waghorn contributed to this report.

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