LOS ANGELES -- Results of a large-scale clinical trial, reported today by a UC San Francisco researcher, suggest that a compound called suramin offers substantial pain reduction and moderate delay in progression of prostate cancer for some patients who have become resistant to standard hormone treatment. The finding was presented by UCSF oncologist Eric Small, MD, the lead author of the study and the principal investigator of the UCSF portion of the multi-institutional trial, at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Los Angeles. The finding, said Small, offers a new direction for substantial pain relief for patients with advanced prostate cancer.
The phase III clinical trial, designed to test the drug's efficacy, involved 458 patients, with an average age of 68, at 76 medical centers in the United States and Canada.
In the study, the researchers reported that a significantly greater number of patients receiving suramin, in combination with another anti-prostate tumor agent, hydrocortisone, experienced significant pain reduction, for a longer period of time, than patients receiving only hydrocortisone and a placebo. In addition, patients who did not receive suramin were 50 percent more likely to undergo further progression of the disease.
Suramin has long been suspected of being an anti-prostate cancer agent, but because it has always been administered in conjunction with hydrocortisone, itself a drug with modest anti-prostate cancer activity, its unique contribution has been unclear.
In the clinical trial, researchers determined that 43 percent of patients receiving suramin with hydrocortisone experienced a reduction in pain, in contrast to 28 percent of those with hydrocortisone and a placebo. Moreover, the duration of that pain reduction lasted an average of 240 days, in contrast to 69 days in those receiving just hydrocortisone and a placebo.
"We observed a persistent and statistically significant advantage in patients
Contact: Jennifer O'Brien
University of California - San Francisco