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New light-activated therapy for early treatment of prostate cancer

A new treatment for low-risk prostate cancer has been found to effectively destroy cancer cells while minimising side effects and preserving healthy tissue.

  • Vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy (VTP) involves using lasers to activate a light-sensitive drug, injected into the bloodstream, which destroys prostate tumour tissue.

    The lead investigator on the clinical trial of VTP is Professor Mark Emberton, Dean of UCL Medical Sciences and Clinical Director of the newly awarded Wellcome/EPSRC Centre for Surgical and Interventional Sciences.

    VTP allows for early treatment of low-risk prostate cancer, which would otherwise only be treated once it becomes more severe. The UCL-led clinical trial found that 49% of patients treated with VTP went into complete remission compared with 13.5% in the control group.

    Because only prostate tumour cells are targeted, VTP dramatically reduces the urinary and erectile side effects experienced by patients treated with radical therapies such as surgery and radiotherapy.

  • Professor Emberton said:

  • “These results are excellent news for men with early localised prostate cancer, offering a treatment that can kill cancer without removing or destroying the prostate…This is truly a huge leap forward for prostate cancer treatment, which has previously lagged decades behind other solid cancers such as breast cancer.”

  • Improved location and identification of prostate tumours using MRI scans and targeted biopsies allows treatment to be delivered more precisely and effectively.

    The VTP trial was led by UCL, with the therapy developed by the Weizmann Institute of Science in collaboration with STEBA Biotech. Professor Emberton is supported by the NIHR UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.

    Read the full story on UCL News.