New drug extends life of prostate cancer sufferers

27 September 2011

A new life-extending drug to treat prostate cancer has been given approval to be legally used in the UK.

Abiraterone acetate, marketed by Janssen under the trade name ZYTIGA, was developed by the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Marsden Hospital, and has undergone a series of successful clinical trials on humans with prostate cancer.

The new drug is a type of treatment for prostate cancer that works by blocking the synthesis of testosterone in all tissues including the tumour itself.

Developed as a once-daily pill, the new arrival was approved by the European Commission earlier this month but launched officially in the UK today (September 27th).

Royal Marsden chief executive Cally Palmer said: "The development of abiraterone highlights the national importance of funding pioneering cancer research. We are delighted our patients at the Royal Marsden have been among the first to benefit from the very latest in drug development."

In clinical trials of the new cancer treatment, patients who were given the drug lived on average 15.8 months longer compared to 11.2 months among those that were given a placebo.

From its foundation in 1909 as a small research department of the Royal Marsden Hospital, the ICR has become one of the world's foremost independent cancer research organisations.

By Edward Bartel

Johann S. de Bono, et al., "Abiraterone and Increased Survival in Metastatic Prostate Cancer", New England Journal of Medicine, May 25th 2011.


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