Eleven compounds that have the potential to significantly improve the treatment and diagnosis of prostate cancer have recently been identified by a group of scientists, who say the compounds could be used in the future to develop more effective and targeted drugs. Currently prostate cancer is similar to most other types of cancer in that it is fought using drugs that damage healthy cells as well as cancerous ones.
Researchers in four institutions across Russia looked at a cancer marker called the prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA), to determine whether specific types of molecules can be more selective in the type of cells they target. Prostate cancer tissues have 10 times the level of PSMA proteins. These PSMAs can be a highly effective way of spotting secondary tumors that could be present after the removal of the initial tumor.
Once the PSMA was identified, the scientists evaluated three different groups of molecules capable of binding to it. After a detailed analysis, the team identified ligands as having the best potential to offer a targeted approach to prostate cancer, and the team was able to build on previous work done in this area. The scientists highlighted a set of eleven promising cancer-fighting compounds based on a substance called urea. Urea is a part of urine and has long been of interest to cancer specialists because of the way it can be modified to block DNA replication and thus the division of cancer cells.
The team reported that they have discovered eleven substances that have demonstrated the characteristics necessary. These substances are now being tested in clinical trials and according to the scientists, the results so far are encouraging.
According to the US National Cancer Institute, prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men after skin cancer, and despite the fact that most men don’t die from the disease, it’s still the second most common cause of cancer-related death in the US after lung cancer.
The study referred to in this article has been published in the Journal of Drug Targeting.