Female hormones may treat prostate cancer

Deadly therapy-resistant prostate cancer could be overcome with a treatment based on female hormones, research suggests.

The secret is to target a particular tumour molecule that responds to oestrogen, tests reveal.

Growth of prostate cancer is usually associated with androgen male hormones, such as testosterone.

But men as well as women have a certain amount of oestrogen, the female sex hormone.

The new research indicates that biological pathways involving oestrogen can be used to combat prostate cancer.

Oestrogen binds to specific receptors on the surfaces of cells - molecules that trigger biochemical effects when stimulated.

Prostate tumours are known to carry two oestrogen receptors. One of them, the beta oestrogen receptor, causes cancer cells to commit suicide when activated, the research shows.

Conventional hormone treatment for prostate cancer that has not been cured by surgery or radiotherapy involves blocking the effects of androgens, or cutting off their supply.

This is the standard therapy that has been in use for 60 years. However, in time the cancer becomes unresponsive to androgens, and it is then difficult to stop. Chemotherapy agents are not very effective against prostate cancer.

Australian scientists carrying out the new research developed a drug that selectively targets beta oestrogen receptors.

Professor Gail Risbridger, from Monash University in Victoria, who co-led the study, said: "It not only inhibits the growth of prostate cancer but also kills off cancer cells that are resistant to conventional treatment such as androgen deprivation therapy, more commonly known as castration therapy, and does so using a mechanism that is different to castration.

"The team at Monash University has discovered how this compound working through the beta receptors targets a small, but very important, population of cells in the tumour. It is a significant piece of the puzzle that will help medical research in this field - an achievement that could eventually enhance treatment options for patients around the world with advanced prostate cancer."

After making the discovery in animals, the scientists repeated the results using human cells and tissues from prostate cancer patients.

The findings were published last month in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Each year around 35,000 men in the UK are diagnosed with prostate cancer and 10,000 die from the disease.

"This research.. provides me with the imperative to conduct basic biomedical research where the fundamental outcomes such as those we describe may ultimately translate into more effective ways to treat prostate cancer," Prof Risbridger added.

Dr Helen Rippon, head of research management at The Prostate Cancer Charity, said: "Hormone therapy to block the actions of androgens, or male hormones, is the mainstay of treatment for men with advanced prostate cancer that has spread beyond the confines of the prostate.

"Although hormone therapy can control the cancer for many years, prostate tumours eventually stop responding and resume growth. This is thought to be because small groups of cancer cells emerge within the tumour that are no longer dependent on androgens to survive and thrive.

"This study looks specifically at new ways to kill prostate cancer cells once they have become androgen resistant. It identifies another hormone pathway, controlled by oestrogens, which could be a promising target for the development of new treatments. This research shows that 'switching this pathway on' can force the androgen-resistant cells to 'commit suicide'.

"Although this research is still at a comparatively early stage, it does suggest that oestrogen-based drugs could be developed and tested specifically for late-stage prostate cancer treatment.

"We are pleased to see researchers taking on this important issue because, sadly, once prostate cancer has become resistant to anti-androgen therapy, there is a dearth of effective treatments available. Men with later stages of the disease can be left feeling that they have very few options left and this needs to change - as rapidly as possible."

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Senior Risk Manager - Banking - London - £650

    £600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...

    Commercial Litigation Associate

    Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...

    Systems Manager - Dynamics AX

    £65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...

    Service Delivery Manager (Software Development, Testing)

    £40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...

    Day In a Page

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little