During the study, researchers Professor Wayne Tilley and Dr Lisa Butler of the University's Dame Roma Mitchell Cancer Research Laboratories treated the prostate cancer cells with a combination of drugs including bicalutamide (an anti-androgen that opposes the action of androgen on the tumor), and the inhibitors 17AAG and vorinostat.
Professor Tilley said that growth of prostate cancer is initially dependent on hormones called androgens, which traditionally have been suppressed to stop tumor growth. However, despite an initial response, resistance to hormone deprivation often occurs and the tumor starts to grow again,
"Men undergoing hormone deprivation therapy can also experience significant side effects, including reduced libido, impotence, hot flushes, tiredness and sweating, gradual decrease in body hair, reduced bone and muscle strength and cognitive changes," he said.
The new treatment could effectively curb disease progression by killing prostate cancer cells.
These new drugs 17AAG and vorinostat can block key cancer survival pathways, but are not particularly effective in killing prostate cancer cells if given alone.
"We can now confirm that a very low level of bicalutamide is capable of inhibiting cancer cell proliferation by more than 10-fold when combined with either vorinostat or 17AAG, making our current treatments much more effective and causing fewer side effects," said Butler.
Professor Chris Sweeney, a world recognized medical oncologist and Director of Clinical Trials at the Royal Adelaide Hospital Cancer Center will be conducting further clinical trials to test the new treatment
"The ultimate test of this exciting laboratory breakthrough is to see if it improves outcomes and quality of life for men suffering from advanced prostate cancer," he said.