A clinical trial has shown that a new, non-surgical method of treatment for low-risk prostate cancer can effectively kill cancer cells whilst at the same time preserving healthy tissue.
The new treatment is called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy, or VTP. According to University College London Hospitals (UCLH), the treatment uses a light-sensitive drug, which is injected into the bloodstream. A laser then activates the drug, which eradicates tumor tissue in the prostate.
The drug used is called WST11 and comes from bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean. These bacteria have evolved to turn light into energy in a very efficient way. This trait has been exploited to develop WST11, which UCLH describes as "a compound that releases free radicals to kill surrounding cells when activated by laser light."
According to UCLH the research, which was published in The Lancet Oncology, showed that 49 percent of patients given VTP went into "complete remission" compared with 13.5 percent of patients in the control group.
"This is truly a huge leap forward for prostate cancer treatment, which has previously lagged decades behind other solid cancers such as breast cancer," Mark Emberton, dean of UCL Medical Sciences and consultant urologist at UCLH, said in a news release on Tuesday. Emberton led the trial.