Drug for HIV also checks spread of prostate cancer: study

Maraviroc, an HIV drug that is approved by FDA and used in treatment of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) targeting a specific protein involved in the immune system has potential to block the spread of prostate cancer cells to bones, which is lethal, said a new research.

An Indonesian woman signs on a board during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign on the World AIDS Day in Jakarta. (IANS)

An Indonesian woman signs on a board during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign on the World AIDS Day in Jakarta. (IANS)

Although prostate cancer can be successfully treated in many men, its spread to the bone is eventually lethal. “The drug is already approved by the FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) for HIV treatment. We may be able to test soon whether this drug can block metastasis in patients with prostate cancer,” said lead author Richard Pestell from the Thomas Jefferson University in the US.

The complicated research was undertaken since there was no immune-competent mouse model of prostate cancer that leads to bone and brain metastasis. The researchers developed a prostate cancer cell line that regularly caused bone metastasis in immune-competent mouse models and then administered the HIV drug Maraviroc to the prostate cancer mouse model.

In comparison to control animals, Maraviroc dramatically reduced the overall metastatic load by 60 percent in the bone, brain and other organs.

Finally, in order to determine whether it helps contain human prostate cancer, the researchers mined the genomic data of patients with prostate cancer and found that the protein called CCR5 was more highly expressed in prostate cancer tissue compared with normal tissue. Hence, the new drug can become potential drug to treat prostate cancer. The study appeared in the journal Cancer Research.

In fact, recently another research found that a signal protein, that plays a crucial role in controlling the growth of blood vessels, could be used to suppress tumours in prostate cancer.

The research published in the British academic journal Oncogene showed potential to develop new drugs to improve the long-term management and prognosis for prostate cancer patients.

The signal protein, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) which comes in two forms — pro-angiogenic, which encourages the growth of blood vessels, and anti-angiogenic, which inhibits vascular growth.

According to researchers, in prostate cancer, the cancer cells produce pro-angiogenic VEGF to form the new blood vessels that are needed to carry vital nutrients and oxygen to tumours.

And they developed a compound called Sphinx, which can switch the production of VEGF from the pro-angiogenic form to the anti-angiogenic form to block the formation of new blood vessels, and cause the tumours to starve themselves, preventing the growth and spread of the cancer.

Researchers demonstrate that the new chemical could be used successfully to switch the forms of VEGF in mice in the laboratory and prevent tumour growth with very few side effects when given three times weekly by injections.

“This work opens up a new avenue for drug development for prostate cancer,” David Bates from Nottingham University said. “This is a new target, and we believe we will be able to make drugs that hit this target in those patients that can benefit, with prostate cancer, and potentially other cancers too,” he added.

The progress in research on prostate cancer should answer the problem of many elderly people who face it post-50s.

One comment

  1. Jerry Goldenberg

    I thought the report was excellent
    I am on Lupron and have had metastasis
    for a couple of years

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