17 July 2017

Monday 17 July 2017: ANZUP Cancer Trials Group Limited (ANZUP) and Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) have today launched the first Australian trial of a ground-breaking nuclear medicine treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer.

Despite recent advances in the treatment of prostate cancer, castrate resistant metastatic disease remains incurable and is the leading cause of cancer related mortality amongst men in developed countries. However, a new approach has been developed to deliver cancer-killing radioactive atoms directly and specifically to areas of advanced prostate cancer. This approach has previously shown promising early results in patients involved in a pilot study led by Associate Professor Michael Hofman out of Melbourne’s Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Now, thanks to funding through PCFA, Associate Professor Hofman will lead an ANZUP trial of 200 patients at centres across Australia and New Zealand in what he believes could be a game-changer in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

"What sets this approach apart is that it identifies cancers that have the target, delivers the radiation directly to those cells, and gives us a way to visualise what happens as a result. This allows for a truly individual, targeted therapy," says Associate Professor Hofman.

The unique treatment involves two distinct parts. Firstly, a PET scan is used to ‘map’ the cancer. This is done by injecting a radioactive molecule called gallium-68 attached to a small molecule that rapidly localises to prostate specific membrane antigen (PSMA) on the surface of prostate cancer cells in the body. The result is the cancer cells 'light up', showing exactly where the disease is and enabling identification of patients that may benefit from this new therapy. Next a different radioactive molecule – Lutetium 177 – attached to the same type of small molecule is injected into the patient and travels through the body, directly targeting cancer cells that have high levels of PSMA.

PCFA and ANZUP have partnered on a short video which visually demonstrates how this therapy works and follows a patient with advanced prostate cancer as he goes through treatment as part of Associate Professor Hofman's pilot.

PCFA CEO, Associate Professor Anthony Lowe commented: "As the peak national body for prostate cancer, PCFA is committed to improving outcomes for men with prostate cancer. We are delighted to partner with ANZUP to trial this innovative new treatment at centres across Australia and New Zealand. We believe this research could put Australia at the forefront of advanced prostate cancer treatment. I would also like to acknowledge the funding support of the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride, Movember and It's a Bloke Thing in helping to make this important trial a reality."

ANZUP Chair, Professor Ian Davis said: "We're delighted to partner with PCFA to launch this important study that could result in a fundamental change in the way we approach the treatment of advanced prostate cancer. Clinical trials like this are the only way we can find out how well new treatments work, whether they are safe, and whether they should become the new gold standard for treatment in the future. The men who will participate in this study are paving the way to improve outcomes for all who come after them."

We have compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions with answers about the Lutetium-PSMA (Lu-PSMA) prostate cancer trial, please click here to read more.