Tests of satraplatin for prostate cancer show encouraging results

In collaboration with the Press Association

The results of a phase III clinical trial of a new prostate cancer drug - satraplatin - have been encouraging, according to the drug companies involved.

Satraplatin was originally developed by Professor Ken Harrap's research group, based at The Institute for Cancer Research, with funding from Cancer Research UK. It was licensed to Spectrum Pharmaceuticals for clinical development to treat men with prostate cancer that had not responded to hormone treatment.

Patients in the SPARC (Satraplatin and Prednisone Against Refractory Cancer) trial who received satraplatin plus prednisone had a 40 per cent reduction in the risk of disease progression compared with patients who received prednisone plus a placebo.

The trial was run by GPC Biotech, Pharmion Corporation and Spectrum Pharmaceuticals. Harpal Kumar, chief operating officer of Cancer Research UK, welcomed the announcement: "What is particularly exciting about satraplatin is that it can be given to patients as a pill, unlike previous generations of platinum-based drugs, which have to be injected.

"The significant effects of satraplatin in combination with another drug, prednisone, suggest that this pill has real potential to help men whose prostate cancer does not respond to first-line chemotherapy treatments."

The results of the trial will be used to support an application to market the drug.

Mr Kumar added that successful drug development is vital to Cancer Research UK's objective of improving the lives of all cancer patients. Since 1982, the charity has taken over 100 agents into clinical trials and plans to double its activity over the next five years. "Licensing promising drugs like satraplatin to pharmaceutical companies not only allows these drugs to go through necessary but expensive large-scale clinical trials, but if a drug is successful, it means the charity will also receive revenue to invest in more cancer research in the UK," Mr Kumar said.