Scientists are hailing a new drug to treat aggressive prostate cancer as potentially the most significant advance in the field for 70 years. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men.
Abiraterone could potentially treat up to 80% of patients with a deadly form of the disease resistant to currently available chemotherapy, they say. The drug works by blocking the hormones which fuel the cancer.
The Institute of Cancer Research hopes a simple pill form will be available in two to three years.
An advanced clinical trial involving 1,200 patients around the world is currently under way, with more trials likely later this year.
Abiraterone works by blocking production of the hormones throughout the body.
The latest study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, is based on just 21 patients with advanced, aggressive prostate cancer treated with the drug - but data has been collected on a total of 250 worldwide.
It found significant tumour shrinkage, and a drop in tell-tale levels of a key protein produced by the cancer called prostate specific antigen in the majority of patients.
Private medical insurance: News update: August 2008