New drug research for prostate cancer may also aid in fighting COVID-19

Two women from the QUT Faculty of Health’s School of Biomedical Science, are developing drugs to fight advanced prostate cancer that could also prevent and or treat acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

Dr. Lisa Philp and Professor Colleen Nelson and their research team, based at the Translational Research Institute, realized their research on two hormones secreted by body fat, that modulate prostate cancer tumor growth could also have roles in driving the rapid-onset, severe lung inflammation that kills patients with serious COVID-19 disease.

The research team had been investigating two novel drugs that target fat hormones, one hormone which is pro-inflammatory, and another hormone that has an anti-inflammatory effect; each of which is involved in the progression of prostate cancer.

Using their data and knowledge of COVID-19 research the team came to the hypothesis that these drugs could be effective treatments for ARDS.

The team had been collaborating with two US-based biotech companies to advance their research on the drugs to a phase 1 clinical trial in prostate cancer patients. They have very strong data that both these drugs suppress tumor progression in advanced treatment-resistant prostate cancer and, importantly, inflammation.

The good news is the San Francisco company working on this drug has already used it in patients with inflammatory eye conditions, so we know it is safe for human use. In fact, the company is developing it for other illnesses such as liver disease.

The team had been working with this company in the prostate cancer context but when COVID hit we said to them that it could be a great treatment for ARDS. The company is supporting us financially to be able to get through these proof of principle pre-clinical studies.

Posted in Prostate Cancer.