Fourth new successful drug for prostate cancer treatment in two
15 August 2012
Clinical trials have shown the drug enzalutamide can
significantly extend life and improve quality of life in men with
advanced prostate cancer.
The head of one of the UK’s leading cancer research organisations
has hailed a golden age in prostate cancer drug discovery as it is
the fourth drug in two years that trials have shown can
significantly extend life.
The Institute of Cancer Research, London, and its partner
hospital The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust jointly led the new
Phase III trial of enzalutamide and the Phase III trials of two
other drugs, cabazitaxel and abiraterone. Abiraterone was also
discovered at The Institute of Cancer Research and was recently made
available on the NHS. A further drug sipuleucel-T has also been
shown to extend life in the two-year period.
Professor Alan Ashworth, chief executive of The Institute of
Cancer Research (ICR), said cancer research in the UK was finally
delivering new treatment options for men with advanced prostate
cancer after a long period where the options were limited.
“Advanced prostate cancer is extremely difficult to treat, and
it’s taken a massive co-ordinated effort to finally bring new drugs
into the pipeline, after decades where there were no options once
old-style hormone treatment stopped working," he said. “What we’re
seeing now is an unprecedented period of success for prostate cancer
research, with four new drugs shown to extend life in major clinical
trials in just two years, and several others showing promise. It
truly is a golden age for prostate cancer drug discovery and
Professor Martin Gore, medical director of The Royal Marsden
Hospital, said: “We are delighted with the recent progress that has
been made in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and to see
the impact this is having on our patients, many of whom are living
longer with a better quality of life as the result of these new
Enzalutamide, a new type of hormone treatment, was assessed in
1,199 patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer
that had previously received chemotherapy, in a multinational,
randomised placebo-controlled trial sponsored by pharmaceutical
companies Medivation and Astellas.
Median survival with enzalutamide was 18.4 months, compared with
13.6 months for men receiving a placebo. Around 43 per cent of men
taking enzalutamide as part of the AFFIRM trial reported an improved
quality of life, compared with 18 per cent of men taking a placebo.
In November last year, the trial’s Independent Data Monitoring
Committee recommended that the trial be stopped early and men who
received the placebo be offered enzalutamide.