Drugs used to treat blood cholesterol could be used to treat prostate cancer that no longer responds to hormone treatment, researchers have found.
Scientists from the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Center in Glasgow observed 12 participants in a clinical trial.
The results showed that statins slow tumor growth when given alongside a treatment that lowers hormone levels, known as androgen deprivation therapy, although a much larger trial significant is needed before a decision can be made on clinical efficacy.
Lead researcher Professor Hing Leung of Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute in Glasgow said: “Our study is the first of its kind to show that statins have a detectable effect on prostate cancer growth in patients. .
“We believe statins may prevent prostate cancer from making androgens from cholesterol, thereby cutting off a pathway for cancer to resist androgen deprivation therapy.”
Once the cancer stops responding to hormone treatment and becomes castration-resistant prostate cancer, then it is “very difficult to treat” at present.
If larger trials are successful, approved drugs can be used to quickly offer treatment to patients.
He added, “We need to test statins on a larger group of patients over a longer period of time to fully understand the benefits and risks for patients. But these data give us hope that we may have more readily available treatments for prostate cancer in the future.”
A former soldier, John Culling, 64, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2019 and hailed the new research.
He told PA: “I wasn’t too worried. I only had to get up once in the night, but I’ve never had to before, so it’s the change that has me prompted him to have it checked out.
“The diagnosis was a shock. I was 60 but had been in the military all my life, so I was fit.”
Mr Culling, who lives in Broughty Ferry, near Dundee, has successfully undergone chemotherapy, radiotherapy and hormone treatment and is currently being monitored with a risk of his cancer coming back due to its aggressive nature.
He said: “Knowing that scientists are working in laboratories and hospitals to conduct research and clinical trials, especially with drugs already used for other conditions, gives me hope for both myself and for future generations.
“I hope research like this means even better outcomes for anyone who may have to go through a diagnosis like mine.”