What’s the latest in prostate cancer treatment and research? Dr. Himisha Beltran shares developments in precision medicine and clinical trials, including how prostate-specific membrane antigen (PSMA) imaging can help provide targeted care.
Dr. Himisha Beltran is Director of Translational Research in the Department of Medical Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Learn more about Dr. Beltran, here.
Dr. Beltran, when it comes to prostate cancer research and emerging treatment options, what are you excited about specifically?
Well, there’s so much I’m excited about. There’s a lot happening in prostate cancer research. When it comes to precision medicine, we are still at the beginning. We are developing new trials and treatment strategies to target other mutations with drugs that have not yet been approved. We have the capability to interrogate treatment resistance, recognizing that tumors can evolve, and the technologies are such where we can start to understand why different people respond differently to the different treatments that we have, and now come in to try to prevent of bypass that treatment-resistant pathway, which is still a very new field.
I’m also very excited about even our understanding about the inherited mutations that predispose to prostate cancer because that has implications for family members, and one could envision a future where we have better detection and prevention for prostate cancer for high-risk individuals. And then, finally, one class of drugs that we didn’t talk about that is really precision medicine’s strategy is a class of drugs targeting PSMA – prostate-specific membrane antigen.
So, that is a molecular feature of the cancer. It is a protein that is expressed on the cell surface of prostate cancer. It’s not a genetic mutation that we test through genetic sequencing, but we have something called PSMA imaging where we can do molecular imaging to figure out if the prostate cancer expresses this protein. And there are a number of drug approaches that are coming in to target this very specific protein on the cell surface.
And so, I’m very excited about that. I do think that does represent precision medicine, and these are treatments in clinical trials that we’ll hear much more about later this year. And so, I think in general, as we start thinking about how we start treating prostate cancers, we’re moving beyond, “Treat everyone the same,” and really trying to figure out, “Can we really understand, who are the patients? And develop strategies that are more specific for that individual.”