Prostate cancer is one of hardest cancers to diagnose and treat—but a recent discovery by scientists from various Russian institutions may help us develop a more targeted and effective way to manage it. Instead of fighting the cancer using drugs that ultimately damage the body’s healthy cells as it tries to kill the cancerous ones, 11 compounds have been identified that can lend itself to the development of more targeted and effective drugs.
The key to this discovery is based on the prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) proteins. Prostate cancer tissues apparently carry 10 times the level of PSMA proteins versus healthy tissues, making the cancer easy to spot.
Once identified, scientists studied various molecules that are capable of binding to it—antibodies, aptamers and ligands—and they discovered that ligans have a higher rate of success for targeted treatment. From there, it was only a matter of referencing back to data (some of which goes as far back as the 90s), which revealed the set of 11 cancer-fighting compounds.
Currently, these 11 substances, which have shown the characteristics necessary to move on from the preclinical stage, are now being tested in clinical trials. There have yet to determine if the PSMA ligands will appear, but based on the results, the team is optimistic.
"[T]he fact that the PSMA-diagnostics allows the monitoring of tumour growth and development of metastasis makes this an attractive target for future developments of drugs," said Anastasia Aladinskaya from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, who is one of the researchers behind the study. "The first results are already there, and they are very promising."
Their findings have been published in the Journal of Drug Targeting.