Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. Several epidemiological studies have demonstrated that people who live in higher latitudes are at higher risk of dying of many cancers, including prostate cancer. It has also been demonstrated that there is an inverse relationship between latitude, sun exposure, cutaneous synthesis of Vitamin D and skin color, i.e. dark skinned people, e.g. African-Americans living in the Northeastern hemisphere have a higher likelihood of getting and dying from prostate cancer.
The mainstay of chemotherapy includes androgen deprivation by surgical removal of the testicles. However, no therapy is currently available for prostate cancers that are localized and/or metastasized and fail to respond to androgen therapy. Most human prostate cancer cells contain the Vitamin D receptor (VDR). Numerous studies have shown that prostate cancer cells respond to VDR by enhancing differentiation and decreasing proliferation. These findings strongly support the use of Vitamin D-based agents for first line and/or second line therapy when androgen deprivation failed. However, the use of Vitamin D and analogs that are currently being tested in the clinic is limited by toxic side-effects of hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria. Thus, less calcemic/toxic analogs of Vitamin D and/or its metabolites with potent antiproliferative activities are attractive agents for prostate cancer.
Scientists at Boston University Medical School have developed a non-toxic analog of Vitamin D and have demonstrated that this analog strongly suppressed the proliferation of several prostate cancer cells and induced apoptosis or cell death of cancerous cells in in vitro studies. Additionally, according to the lead inventor Dr. Rahul Ray of Boston University, "We demonstrated in preliminary mouse studies that our Vitamin D analog is non-toxic at doses that are considered to be extremely toxic with vitamin D and current analogs that are in the clinic. Furthermore, our Vitamin D analog caused significant reduction of prostate tumor in a mouse xenograft model without much toxicity."
Aphios Corporation is a specialty pharmaceutical company that is developing enhanced natural therapeutics for health maintenance and the treatment of human diseases with a focus on oncology, infectious diseases, and quality-of-life medicines.