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Prostate Cancer's Time to Shine

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The past decade has seen plenty of breakthroughs and new drugs for breast cancer, says The Economist. The next decade should do the same for prostate cancer. "Better understanding of the biology of the disease, and particularly of the role of testosterone in promoting it, has stimulated a new era of drug development, reminiscent of the revolution that ushered in Herceptin," the article says. "Some of the therapies remain conceptual, almost to the point of fantasy: a genetically engineered virus that could destroy prostate-cancer cells from within, for example. Several, though, are already available, or are just about to be." For example, Sanofi has developed cabazitaxel, a relative of taxol, which is used to treat breast and ovarian cancer. "It works by preventing the formation of structures called microtubules, which pull the chromosomes apart in dividing cells (such as cancer cells)," The Economist says. There's also Johnson & Johnson's abiraterone, which works by interfering with testosterone production. And there are others — even treatments for castration-resistant prostate cancer, like dendritic cell vaccines.

"Cost, indeed, is a consideration for others among the new anti-prostate cancer treatments," The Economist says. "But Herceptin, too, was subject to scrutiny about its cost at the beginning. Now Herceptin treatment is routine, and many women’s lives are the better (and longer) for it. With luck, in a few years' time, men will be able to say the same."

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