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  • HIV drug 'can slow prostate cancer spread'

    Author: AAP

Early studies have demonstrated the HIV drug maraviroc can dramatically curb the lethal spread of prostate cancer in mice with the disease.

A drug used to treat HIV infection can slow the deadly spread of prostate cancer, new research suggests.

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Scientists hope the compound, or others like it, may help men with the disease live longer.

Early studies have demonstrated the antiretroviral drug maraviroc can dramatically curb the lethal spread of prostate cancer in mice with the disease.

Prostate cancer most commonly travels to the bones, leading to severe pain, disability and eventual death.

But treatment with maraviroc reduced the spread, or metastasis, of prostate tumours to the bones, brain and other organs by 60 per cent in mice.

US lead scientist Dr Richard Pestell, from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, said: "Because this work shows we can dramatically reduce metastasis in pre-clinical models, and because the drug is already... approved for HIV treatment, we may be able to test soon whether this drug can block metastasis in patients with prostate cancer."

The drug targets a protein molecule on the surface of cells called the CCR5 receptor which the AIDS virus HIV uses to invade white blood cells.

Previous research by the same team in 2012 showed CCR5 was implicated in the spread of aggressive forms of breast cancer to the lungs.

A genetic analysis of metastasised bone and brain tumours also showed evidence of CCR5 driving the spread of prostate cancer.

To investigate further, the scientists used maraviroc to block CCR5 in mice with metastatic prostate cancer.

They found that compared with sick mice not given the drug, overall cancer spread was cut by 60 per cent.

Genetic data from patients with prostate cancer revealed CCR5 was more active in prostate cancer than in normal tissue and made an even bigger impact in metastasised tumours.

Co-author Dr Xuanmau Jiao, also from Thomas Jefferson University, said: "In fact, we noticed that patients who had a lower expression of the CCR5-pathway genes had a longer survival times, whereas high expression of these CCR5 genes was associated with a shorter overall survival."

The study is published online in the journal Cancer Research.



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