A mid-stage trial for abiraterone--an oral drug which inspired a billion-dollar buyout less than a year ago--has produced another set of promising results for men with advanced, treatment-resistant prostate cancer.
For most of the 47 men recruited for the Phase II trial, the cancer had already spread to the bone. All of the patients had received hormone therapy as well as chemotherapy but were no longer responding to standard treatment. About half of the men saw their PSA levels drop by half, a key biomarker for disease activity. And three out of four of the patients experienced a drop in the number of tumor cells circulating in the blood.
"Docetaxel is an important drug, but it extends life for an average of just two to three months, so there is a desperate need to improve treatment options for late-stage prostate cancer patients," said chief investigator Dr. Johann de Bono. "In this trial, abiraterone shrank or stabilized men's cancers for an average of almost six months, which is a very impressive result."
Scientists at the UK's Cancer Research UK and the Institute for Cancer Research at London's Royal Marsden Hospital have been studying the drug closely. Two years ago researchers said that the therapy was responsible for shrinking tumors in 80 percent of the men taking it. Johnson & Johnson acquired the drug when it bought out Cougar Biotechnology last year for $970 million. And Cougar had licensed the drug from BTG.