Scientists in prostate cancer breakthrough

London: British scientists have created a new drug that can shrink prostate tumours in 80 per cent of cases, it was revealed today.

The drug, called abiraterone, was discovered by doctors at London’s Royal Marsden Hospita.

Prostate cancer,is a disease that is more prevelant over the age of 50,and as people live longer, the incidence is expected to increase.

There are two types of prostate cancer: aggressive and non-aggressive. In the latter, which accounts for about a third of all prostate cases, the disease is usually fatal within 18 months.

The disease can be treated using hormone therapy which blocks testosterone but in many cases the cancer becomes resistant and the only other alternative is chemotherapy which has many unpleasant side effects.These include nausea, pain and hairloss.

Royal Marsden lead researcher Dr Johann de Bono said the new drug required the patient to take just four pills a day.

It is hoped that the drug will be on sale for general use by 2011.

Scientists believe the technique could also be effective on other tumours, such as breast and bowel cancers.

Abiraterone works by blocking a key enzyme in the body which help in the production of the male hormones.

Patient trials at the Royal Marsden, home to Britain’s Institute of Cancer Research and Europe’s largest cancer research centre, which eventually came up with abiraterone revealed that it shrank the tumour in three quarters of patients.

Abiraterone is now being used in a 1,200-patient international study, including at ten sites across the UK. If it is licensed as expected in 2011.