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We’ve discovered a new way to treat the deadliest prostate cancers

12th February 2021

Worldwide Cancer Research scientists in Argentina have made an exciting new discovery that could lead to the start of new clinical trials. Their findings reveal a new treatment strategy that helps make immunotherapy work more effectively to kill off the most aggressive types of prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is curable if caught at an early stage, but it still kills over 11,000 people each year in the UK.

This is partly because advanced prostate cancers are harder to treat and for most people, chemotherapy is the only option. Immunotherapy has started to provide some hope, but the effectiveness can vary widely between individual patients. Finding ways to make these immunotherapies work more effectively is a crucial area for improving the survival rates for advanced prostate cancer.

Worldwide Cancer Research scientist Dr Diego Laderach and his team have identified a new molecular ‘brake’ called Galectin-3, which tumours use to escape attack from the immune system, decreasing the effectiveness of immunotherapy.

But now Dr Laderach's new discovery shows that the chemotherapy drug docetaxel can remove this 'brake' and allow immunotherapy to kill cancer cells.

It’s a breakthrough that could lead to urgently needed new treatment options for patients with advanced prostate cancer. 

“Our work shows that tumours produce Galectin-3 to decrease the efficacy of active immunotherapies. We have shown that treating with a low dose of docetaxel after surgical removal of the tumour, followed by administration of immunotherapy results in a successful tumour-free outcome.

The next step is for us to work in collaboration with clinicians to get this protocol into clinical trials. We need to evaluate whether docetaxel improves the therapeutic effects of immunotherapy in patients with prostate cancer." Dr Laderach

Because docetaxel is a drug already approved for the treatment of cancer, the researchers hope that taking their research to the next stage and into clinical trials should be relatively simple. Dr Laderach is already in discussion with oncologists in France to start a new collaboration that he hopes will see this treatment option taken forward.

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