For prostate cancer patients, a potential treatment with fewer side effects


Share this story:

By Jan Jarvis

Laszlo-Prokai-BW_web
 
Prostate cancer patients who have lifesaving therapy to lower testosterone often survive the disease, only to face debilitating neurological symptoms of which hot flushes are the most common.

Medications are available to address these hot flushes (also known as hot flashes), but they come with side effects that men often find intolerable due to the feminizing effects of these drugs.

Now an innovative treatment that is free of these devastating side effects is being developed by a UNT Health Science Center researcher with the help of a $1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute.

For men who suffer hot flushes as a result of androgen deprivation therapy (ADT), a possible new treatment offers hope with fewer side effects, said Laszlo Prokai, PhD, ScD, Professor in the Center for Neuroscience Discovery and the Robert A. Welch Chair in Biochemistry at UNTHSC.

“Our medication under development promises to maintain quality of life for many prostate cancer patients while receiving lifesaving therapy that stops their tumor from growing,” Dr. Prokai said. “Our experimental drug candidate aims at restoring the balance lost due to ADT.”

About 161,360 new cases of prostate cancer will be diagnosed in 2017. It is the second most prevalent cancer in men and an estimated one in seven will develop the disease in his lifetime. Use of ADT has increased markedly in the United States, where one-third of the 2 million prostate cancer survivors are receiving it. ADT is effective in improving survival rates when it is administered relatively early in the course of prostate carcinoma.

But the benefits of ADT are offset by debilitating symptoms similar to those seen in surgically and naturally menopausal women. Hot flushes, depression, anxiety, cognitive impairment, and sexual dysfunction can occur.

Hot flushes, the most prominent symptom experienced with ADT, can cause sleep disturbances resulting in fatigue, irritability, depression, and forgetfulness, as well as acute physical discomfort. Most patients who experience hot flushes on ADT continue to exhibit these symptoms for as long as they are receiving the therapy.

The most effective prescribed drug is a synthetic version of the female hormone estrogen, which has serious side effects, Dr. Prokai said. It can cause enlargement of breasts, which can lead to physical and psychological discomfort and negatively affect the patient’s compliance to treatment. There are particularly high risks for deep vein thrombosis, and subsequent pulmonary embolism.

The drug candidate under development could improve the quality of life without side effects for the many men who are diagnosed with the disease and receiving the lifesaving ADT, Dr. Prokai said.

“After it is taken by the patient, our experimental drug candidate remains inactive until it reaches the brain,” Dr. Prokai said. “Hence, we abolish the unwanted side effects.”

Share this story:

A global audience for TCOM’s rural medicine program

By Jan Jarvis   An international delegation of visitors from 12 countries came to Texas with one common goal: to learn more about how to prevent, treat and manage health problems affecting women around the globe. They found what they were looking for at UNT Health Science Center, one o...Read more

Aug 17, 2017

Lesa B. Roe

NASA executive named sole finalist for UNT System chancellor

The University of North Texas System Board of Regents has selected Lesa B. Roe, Acting Deputy Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), as the sole finalist for the position of Chancellor. Ms. Roe’s selection was announced Thursday during the UNT System Board ...Read more

Aug 17, 2017

TCOM graduating class provides gift to Africa project

By Alex Branch When graduation day arrived for the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2017, students still had $2,200 left in an off-campus bank account. They could have spent that money they raised for class social events on a party or graduation gifts for themselves. Inste...Read more

Aug 14, 2017

Professor named Public Health Veterinarian of the Year

By Sally Crocker   For years, UNT Health Science Center’s Katherine Fogelberg, DVM, PhD, has donated her spare time to treating animals and finding homes for rescued pets. An Assistant Professor in the School of Public Health, Dr. Fogelberg has worked with zoo and wildlife animals as...Read more

Aug 11, 2017