In one particular instance, tumour growth was reduced by 97 percent in preclinical laboratory studies when the drug, Paclitaxel, was given prior to radiation therapy, according to the research conducted by University of New South Wales and the Prince of Wales Hospital.
The findings are published in the journal The Prostate.
"We found that delivering the drug first made the prostate cancer cells more sensitive to radiation therapy," said one of the authors, Professor Pam Russell, based in Prince of Wales Hospital.
"We also found that the timing and the size of the dose were crucial," said Professor Russell. "We used relatively low doses of the drug aiming to keep the likelihood of additional toxicity as low as possible, but we still had excellent results."
Current treatments for prostate cancer, which is the most common cancer in men, include surgery and radiation.
"Ultimately, we are looking for better treatments for prostate cancer and we hope that strategies such as this could be tested in human clinical trials," said Associate Professor Chris Milross, radiation oncologist and co-investigator.
"What is particularly attractive about this data is that the improvement was found for all the prostate cancer cell lines, independent of the status of the tumour suppressor gene, p53," said Dr An Ling Zhang, the paper's first author.
The p53 gene, one of the most frequently mutated in human cancers, has been considered by some investigators to be an important determinant of the response to treatment.
The research was carried out on human prostate cell lines, which were used in the animal model.