A new treatment shows promise in halting the march of aggressive prostate cancer.

Scientists have found a novel drug target that affects the way tumours form nourishing blood vessels.

Blocking the molecule, SRPK1, stopped the progression of prostate cancer in mice.

Analysis of human prostate cancer tumour samples showed that SRPK1 increases as the cancer gets more aggressive.

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The molecule plays a vital role in "angiogenesis" - the process by which tumours generate new blood vessels that feed them with nutrients.

Researchers found that drugs known as Sphinx compounds, designed to inhibit the activity of SRPK1, suppressed tumour growth in mice with prostate cancer when injected three times a week.

Professor David Bates, one of the scientists from the University of Nottingham, said the results "may have wider implications to be used in several types of cancers".

The findings appear in the journal Oncogene.

Dr Matthew Hobbs, deputy director of research at Prostate Cancer UK, said there was an urgent need for new treatments.

"There's no denying that there are too few treatment options for the 40,000 men that face a diagnosis of prostate cancer every year in the UK - especially for those with advanced disease," he said.

"Although it's early days, each finding like this represents a crucial block in building up our understanding of what can slow down and stop the progression of prostate cancer. This understanding will give us the foundations needed to develop new targeted treatments for those men in desperate need."

- PAA

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