London, Dec 29 (ANI): People with prostate cancer have been offered new hope after researchers at University of Pennsylvania discovered a molecule that appears to target the tumours.he researchers found that the "monoclonal" antibody seems to act against the disease in both its early and advanced stages.
Besides attacking the disease directly, it also helps the immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells.n addition, tagging the molecule with a radioactive marker could enable doctors to track spreading prostate cancer, revealing precisely where in the body it is growing.
In the study on mice, the researchers observed that the antibody, known as F77, wiped out 85 percent of one type of highly aggressive prostate cancer.
Tumours allowed to grow to a large size were also dramatically reduced in volume.
Initially, spreading prostate cancer can be kept under control with therapies that prevent tumour growth being fuelled by androgen male hormones.
But eventually, most prostate cancers stop being hormone-sensitive. Few treatment options are then possible and progress of the disease is rapid and lethal.
Up to 45 percent of patients with local prostate cancer relapse after curative treatments such as surgery and radiotherapy, and their disease begins to spread, or "metastasise".
Despite being at a very early stage, the new research raises the prospect of an effective treatment for non-hormone-sensitive advanced prostate cancer for the first time.
The F77 antibody showed "promising potential for diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer, especially for androgen-independent metastatic prostate cancer," the Telegraph quoted the US scientists as saying.
The researchers, led by Dr Mark Greene from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia, pointed out that while antibodies were already being used to tackle other diseases such as lymphoma and breast cancer, those suitable for use against prostate cancer were rare.
F77 on the other hand targeted the most aggressive cancers and responded to those both sensitive and insensitive to male hormones.
The researchers found that on its own, F77 induced a degree of "apoptosis" - a natural process of cell suicide that helps keep rogue cells in check - in cancer cells.
More importantly, it amplified the immune system's ability to recognise and destroy the cancer.
The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)