A Swiss pharmaceutical company has developed an experimental radioactive therapy destined to prolong the life of prostate cancer patients who resist other treatments, paving the way to a new form of cancer therapy.
“This is something new — you’re driving radiation right to cancer itself,” says Karen Knudsen, president, and chief executive of the American Cancer Society. “It’s a much more sophisticated strategy for targeting the tumor. You’re not just destroying the cancer cells — you’re smart-bombing the place that the tumor has found for itself to live.”
The treatment developed by Novartis consists of a radioactive molecule injection that targets the prostate-specific membrane antigen protein found on the surface of prostate cancer cells. The radioactive treatment causes less damage to surrounding tissues, opening the door to “precision radiotherapy […] on the surface of other cancer cells,” says Dr. Philip Kantoff, chairman of medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The new therapy resulted in a 40% reduction of deaths among men compared with the standard treatment.