Markey study: betamethasone may improve prostate cancer radiotherapy outcomes

LEXINGTON, Kentucky (August 12, 2022) — A new study published by researchers at the University of Kentucky Cancer Center suggests that the common steroid betamethasone could be used to reduce unwanted side effects of radiation therapy treatments for prostate cancer.

The research was published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences on June 8.

The laboratory study led by Luksana Chaiswing, Ph.D., assistant professor in the department of toxicology and cancer biology at the British College of Medicine, is the first to show that betamethasone protects normal prostate cells from damage induced by radiotherapy, while making cancer cells more sensitive to treatment.

Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men in the United States. Although radiation therapy is important for controlling the growth of prostate cancer, it carries a significant risk of increasing unwanted side effects, including damage to normal tissue.

“New therapies aimed at protecting against normal tissue damage while increasing the effectiveness of radiation therapy are urgently needed,” Chaiswing said. “The development of such approaches would have a major impact on the control of prostate cancer and the quality of life of patients.

The team examined about 700 drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration for their properties, including protecting non-cancer cells from radiation-induced cytotoxicity, killing prostate cancer cells, and increasing peroxide levels. of hydrogen in cancerous and non-cancerous cells.

Betamethasone, a corticosteroid approved for the treatment of inflammation and cancer of the hematopoietic system, was one of the top five drugs with all the desired properties.

Betamethasone increases levels of hydrogen peroxide, which activates a protective protein called “RelB” in normal, non-cancerous prostate cells.

“The outcome of this project could lead to a new cancer treatment regimen that improves the effectiveness of radiation therapy by sensitizing tumor tissue to radiation while simultaneously protecting normal tissue from radiation-induced side effects, potentially improving the quality life of cancer survivors,” said Chaswing.

The research reported in this publication was supported by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health under award numbers R01CA205400 and R01CA251663, the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under award number P20GM121327, and the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences from the National Institutes of Health under award numbers UL1TR000117 and UL1TR001998. The content is the sole responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

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