Results of a trial in 413 patients showed that the drug, which is activated with a laser to destroy tumour tissue in the prostate, was so effective that half the patients went into remission, compared with 13.5% in a control group.”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,” said Mark Emberton, a University College London consultant urologist who led the trial, “This is truly a huge leap forward.”
The treatment, called vascular-targeted photodynamic therapy or VTP, was developed by scientists at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel in collaboration with the privately owned STEBA Biotech.
The light-sensitive drug used, called WST11, is derived from bacteria found at the bottom of the ocean. To survive with very little sunlight, they have evolved to convert light into energy with incredible efficiency , Emberton’s team said in a study published in the journal `Lancet Oncology’.
The Weizmann scientists exploited this feature to develop WST11, a compound that releases free radicals to kill surrounding cells when activated by laser light.