Researchers at the Institute of Cancer Research in London trialled the effect of the drug, Olaparib , on 49 men with untreatable cancer.
The results showed a low overall success rate, but what researchers are excited about, is the drug’s ability to slow tumour growth in 88% of patients.
This form of treatment is what researchers are heralding as the future of cancer medicine – treating the mutated DNA rather than the part of the body they are in.
The drug acts to target mutations that change the way DNA is repaired.
Targeting these specific mutations, the trail results that were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, showed success in 14 out of 16 men who exhibited the same mutations.
One of the researchers, Dr Joaquin Mateo, told BBC: “It is very promising.
“Those entering the trial had an expected survival of 10 to 12 months and we have many patients on the drug for longer than a year.”
The doctors insisted that whilst these results were promising and exciting in advancing research into the fifth most deadly type of cancer in men – a larger clinical trial is needed before “life expectancy” claims can be made.
“This is the first drug that targets specific genetically defined populations and we are going to see more and more of these coming in the next few years.”
Professor Johann de Bono, the head of drug development at the Institute of Cancer Research said: “Our trial marks a significant step forward in the treatment of prostate cancer.
“I hope it won’t be long before we are using olaparib in the clinic to treat prostate cancer.”