SALT LAKE CITY – A new drug to help men who have one of the deadliest cancers live longer, said a Huntsman Cancer Institute doctor.
Advanced prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in American men only to lung cancer. According to Dr. Neeraj Agarwal, professor of medicine, physician and researcher at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, outlives fewer than 30 percent of men after five years as prostate cancer spreads to other body parts.
But a new drug apalutamide could change that.
The TITAN study, begun in 2015, examined the safety and efficacy of the drug. It targets the protein that drives cancer cells in men with advanced prostate cancer, Agarwal said.
"They basically attack a protein that allows the prostate cancer cell to multiply, metastasize, and penetrate various parts of the body," Agarwal said. He participated in the study since his planning phase.
Apalutamide-treated subjects were 33 percent less likely to die and 52 percent less likely to develop disease. The side effects caused by the drug were well tolerated by Agarwal.
The drug also delays the progression of the disease and the need for chemotherapy.
During the clinical study ̵
According to the "rigorous" study, the researchers learned this year that men treated with apalutamide "lived much longer" than those who received only standard care, Agarwal said.
Patients receiving placebo were now allowed to switch to the real drug, according to the doctor.
"The beauty of conducting clinical trials, the most attractive part of conducting clinical trials today, is that we do not really think about unknown chemicals … and hope for a good outcome After the drivers have been identified, doctors can develop a drug that targets them.
Once the drivers have been identified, physicians can develop a drug that targets them.
"By contrast, until about 10 to 15 years ago, when clinical trials with fewer intelligent molecules were conducted, the results of the clinical trials were less certain and now you know you are achieving the right goal," he said.
The drug was approved a few months ago for a "very small patient population" in later stages of prostate cancer, Agarwal said. But the results of the TITAN study could provide the drug to hundreds of thousands of other men worldwide.
Apalutamide is awaiting approval by the US Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with newly diagnosed advanced prostate cancer
The study's findings were also significant because physicians do not have state-of-the-art infrastructure for prescribing the drug need. Doctors who work in small cities outside major cancer centers can also prescribe this.
"The beauty of this oral pill is that it is easy to prescribe, easy to take and that the side effects are no more than those you are currently seeing with standard care," said Agarwal. "I call these advances a paradigm of progress."
"It's a real step forward because it enables my patients and patients around the world to take their doctors a bottle of oral tablets, go home and take the medications themselves," he added.
Agarwal said it is "a matter of pride" that the Huntsman Cancer Center played a major role in researching a drug that "is so well tolerated and improves life and quality of life."