Monday, 12 February 2018

Monash research sheds light on prostate cancer treatment

Associate Professor Arun Azad and the 
Prostate Cancer Therapeutics research group
Monash University research has revealed that prostate cancer patients with a particular biomarker may benefit from commonly used hormonal drugs, contrary to a landmark study published a few years ago.

Monash Health oncologist Associate Professor Arun Azad from the Prostate Cancer Therapeutics laboratory, School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health (SCS) led the study that will change clinical practice and may improve outcomes for patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. 

“A landmark study published in 2014 had suggested that men with a certain biomarker (known as AR-V7) do not respond to some of the commonly used hormonal drugs in prostate cancer,” Associate Professor Azad said.

AR-V7, a type of protein, is easily detected in the blood of men with prostate cancer.

“In our study, we’ve shown that patients with AR-V7 may in fact respond to the drugs abiraterone and enzalutamide, and should not necessarily be excluded from such therapies if they express this biomarker.”

The study, published last week in European Urology, supports a recent pivotal phase III clinical trial that made the same finding.

Associate Professor Azad said his group’s research shows that the presence of AR-V7 should not be used to guide treatment selection for men with advanced prostate cancer.

“This represents a major shift in our understanding of AR-V7 and its potential clinical utility as a biomarker,” he said. 

“This is a pertinent reminder that we should not ‘jump the gun’ with biomarker studies and make assumptions—or even worse, change our clinical practice—on the basis of a solitary study.” 

Associate Professor Azad’s research was supported by an NHMRC Project Grant on which he is the Chief Investigator. 

He thanks the patients and families who so generously supported this ongoing study, as well as his research team, clinical collaborators at Monash Health, Eastern Health and Chris O'Brien, Lifehouse.

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