A new treatment approach for prostate cancer may provide a cost-effective alternative to traditional therapies, a recent study found. The study, published in the British Journal of Cancer, showed low temperature plasmas (LTPs) may be a potential treatment option for patients with organ-confined prostate cancer, presenting an effective alternative treatment to standard radiotherapy and photodynamic therapy.
LTPs are produced through the application of a high electric field across a gas by using an electrode that breaks down the gas to form plasma. This process generates a unique reactive environment that contains high concentrations of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species.
The delivery of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species operated at atmospheric pressure near room temperature is a crucial mediator of cell death in biological systems when transferred through plasma to a target source. The active agents in LTPs break up DNA and destroy cells by necrosis, which differs from current therapies that cause apoptosis. If future trials of LTPs are successful, the therapy could be used to treat patients who have cancer in the next 10 to 15 years.
“Through this research we have found that LTPs induce high levels of DNA damage, which leads in turn to a substantial reduction in colony-forming ability, and ultimately necrotic cell death,” Adam Hirst, a PhD student at the York Plasma Institute who worked on the project, said in a press release. “Using clinically relevant, close-to-patient samples, we have presented the first experimental evidence promoting the potential of LTP as a future focal cancer therapy treatment for patients with early stage prostate cancer.”