We have many new drugs that have been recently approved to treat advanced prostate cancer. Two of these drugs are abiraterone (Zytiga) and enzalutamide (Xtandi).

These drugs offer new hope to men with advanced prostate cancer after the cancer has become resistant to hormone therapies (called “castration-resistant prostate cancer”).

These drugs are a real breakthrough, however about 20% of men prescribed these drugs do not respond to these drugs (i.e. PSA does not go down, tumors do not shrink). Currently we don’t know why some men respond to these drugs, while others are resistant.

Knowing in advanced if a man will respond is important. It is important because:

1- We could realize significant economic savings by not giving them to men with advanced prostate cancer who will not respond these drugs. Given that these drugs cost between $5,000 and $7,500 per month we could stop wasting the drugs and save the money.

2- If we give a man who does not respond to the drug we are also allowing his prostate cancer to continue to grow, or progress. This means that when we move a non-responder to a new drug his disease will be more serious and harder to battle.

A lab at John’s Hopkins University has discovered a clue that might help to solve the dilemma of knowing if a man will respond prior to treatment. They have studied prostate cancer cells from the bloodstream of men with advanced prostate cancer. These cells ar