Common steroid betamethasone could be used to reduce unwanted side effects of radiation treatments for prostate cancer
A new study published by University of Kentucky Markey Cancer Center researchers suggests that a common steroid, known as betamethasone, may be the answer to unwanted side effects of radiation therapy for prostate cancer.
Betamethasone protects normal prostate cells from injury induced by radiation therapy
Led by Luksana Chaiswing, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the UK College of Medicine’s Department of Toxicology and Cancer Biology, the study is a world-first.
It demonstrates that betamethasone protects normal prostate cells from injury induced by radiation therapy whilst making the cancer cells more susceptible to the treatment.
Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among men in the US
Prostate cancer is the second most deadly type of cancer amongst men in the US.
Radiation therapy is important because it controls the growth of prostate cancer, but it comes with a variety of unwanted side effects. These include injury to normal tissues.
Chaiswing comments: “New therapies aimed at protecting against normal tissue injury while also increasing radiation therapy effectiveness are urgently needed.
“The development of such approaches would have a major impact on prostate cancer control and the quality of life of patients.”
Betamethasone improves outcomes for prostate cancer radiation therapy
Around 700 Food and Drug Administration-approved drugs were screened by the team. They were analysing the drugs for properties including:
- Protecting non-cancer cells against radiation therapy-induced cytotoxicity
- Killing prostate cancer cells
- Increasing hydrogen peroxide levels in both cancer and non-cancer cells
Betamethasone is a corticosteroid approved for treating inflammation and cancer of the hematopoietic system. It came in the top five drugs tested, possessing all of the desired properties.
Betamethasone increases hydrogen peroxide levels, which activates a protective protein called “RelB” in normal, non-cancerous prostate cells.
The outcome of this project could lead to a new anticancer regimen
“The outcome of this project could lead to a new anticancer regimen that improves the efficacy of radiation therapy by sensitizing tumour tissue to radiation while simultaneously protecting normal tissue from radiation-induced side effects, which could lead to improved quality of life for cancer survivors,” Chaiswing concludes.
The research was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences.