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Queen's University scientists make prostate cancer breakthrough

Leader of the study, Dr Joe O’Sullivan (pictured) described it as “a huge step forward” in the fight against prostrate cancer.

Team leader Dr Joe O'Sullivan
Team leader Dr Joe O'Sullivan

SCIENTISTS AT QUEEN’S University Belfast have made a breakthrough in the treatment for prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men in Ireland, after skin cancer.

A team of scientists, led by Dr Joe O’Sullivan, has pioneered a new combination treatment which has already been successful in its first trial phase.

It will be tested for efficacy in a second phase shortly.

The treatment is for men who have an an advanced and aggressive form of prostate cancer that has spread to the bone.

It works by combining traditional chemotherapy treatments with two doses of a radioactive chemical, Rhenium-186 HEDP.

This chemical, the team explains, can target the areas of the bone that are affected by prostate cancer.  This combination of treatments may help to improve survival outcomes for men who have this aggressive form of cancer.

The results of the first phase of the trial were published in the European Journal of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging and showed that the treatment is “safe and feasible”.

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Dr Joe O’Sullivan, Consultant and Senior Lecturer in Clinical Oncology at the Centre for Cancer Research and Cell Biology at Queen’s University, and leader of the study, said:

This is a significant development in the fight against prostate cancer.  While this combination treatment still has to go to phase two of trials, to know that this combination is safe and feasible as a treatment is a huge step forward.
Traditional chemotherapy treatments aren’t always effective in treating aggressive and advanced forms of prostate cancer, so we needed to develop a new treatment which will provide better outcomes for patients with this type of cancer.  The combination of chemotherapy with the radioactive chemical Rhenium-186 HEDP has the potential to improve outcomes, including survival, for men with this form of cancer.

The second phase of the trial will involve up to 100 patients from Northern Ireland and the Netherlands.

It is anticipated that the results will be known within two years.

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