Scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel have developed a new minimally invasive therapy with STEBA Biotech that could change the game for low-risk prostate cancer patients in future.
The drug they’ve developed, known as Tookad, is the first therapy to offer a focal cure in prostate cancer, meaning it seeks to target only the tumor and surrounding tissues, leaving surrounding healthy tissues and organs largely untouched. The new treatment for prostate cancer represents a fusion of the active surveillance approach with aggressive forms of treatment.
Tookad is injected into the lobe of the cancerous prostate, and activated by a wavelength of light which then cuts off blood supply to the surrounding tissues and effectively suffocates the tumors until they die. Often lasting less than 90 minutes, researchers found the procedure to be fairly simple to perform, as well as economical. Suggesting any surgical centre could potentially house the equipment needed.
Tookad was very effective in 2016 clinical trials, with nearly half of all men in a 413-patient trial remaining in remission after two years as opposed to just 13% in the control group. In the Tookad arm, the chances of progressing to a more serious stage of disease was also three times lower than the control group.
Despite these positive results, it could take some time for this therapy to be available on pharmacy shelves in Australia. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) oversees the pre-market assessment of medicine, and would understandably require some time to assess this new treatment. Given the positive results from clinical trials, it is nevertheless likely to be approved.
In which case, Tookad would join today’s key therapies for prostate cancer and offer a broader array of options for fighting the disease.
Ultimately, with new therapies like Tookad and other research endeavours continuing to break barriers in the field, the future of prostate cancer treatment and prevention looks very promising.
Dr Peter Swindle is a Brisbane-based urologist who specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of prostate cancer. For more information on his services, call (07) 3010 3333.