Prostate cancer drug developed in BC

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 52, No. 7, September 2010, page(s) 366 Pulsimeter

BC scientists have developed an ex­perimental drug shown to shrink pros­tate cancer tumors in a laboratory environment. The drug, EPI-001, targets a protein believed to be res­pon­sible for the fatal progression of advanced-stage prostate cancer. 

Re­search is being conducted by Dr Marianne Sadar, senior scientist at the BC Cancer Agency, and Dr Raymond Andersen, a professor at the University of British Columbia.

While previous prostate cancer drug research focused on one area of the androgen receptor protein, Dr Sadar discovered in 2007 that that an area at the opposite end of the protein structure, the N-terminal, was implicated in advanced prostate cancer.

Based on this discovery, Drs Sadar and Andersen collaborated to find a drug that would work on this target to delay or prevent the growth of prostate cancer. EPI-001 is the first drug candidate developed to target the N-terminal of the androgen receptor, inhibiting androgen receptor activities including recently discovered constitutively active truncated splice variants for which there were no inhibitors until EPI-001. 

The drug has proven to reduce, and potentially cure, CRPC in xenografts—with very limited toxicity and side effects. 

While the initial lab results are promising, human clinical trials need to be undertaken.

Research on EPI-001 was supported by peer-reviewed grant funds from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the National Cancer Institute of Canada, and the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Prostate Cancer Research Program. 

The research was published in Cancer Cell 17(6)525-526.