Public Release: 

New drug to treat enlarged prostate developed at UCL

University College London

Millions of men stand to benefit from a discovery by UCL scientists that could provide a breakthrough in the treatment of enlargement of the prostate (BPH). The UCL team has developed a new drug, Rho-kinase inhibitor that, in preliminary tests, has been found to treat the condition by both relaxing the prostate and stopping the growth of cells within it. Their findings are set out in the current issue of the Journal of Urology.

BPH affects approximately 85% of men over the age of 50 and causes frequent urination and irritation due to the obstruction of urine flow. The drugs currently available for treatment of BPH aim to either relax the prostrate or to reduce its size as two separate actions, and also have undesired hormonal effects. These effects, along with the need to take two separate treatments, often lead to problems of patient compliance. The discovery by the UCL scientists is novel in that this new drug can both relax the prostate and stop it from growing, with virtually no hormonal side effects.

Dr Selim Cellek, who led the investigation as a collaborative work between UCL's Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research and its Institute of Urology and Nephrology, said: "We are very excited by this discovery, as it is a medical breakthrough which represents a major advance in treating a condition that affects such a large proportion of the population. We are still at the development stages and more research will be required before the new treatment becomes available. The next step will be to develop links with investors interested in developing this drug for the treatment of BPH.

"Research has shown that this type of compound can also be used to treat erectile dysfunction (impotence). The future for this line of research is therefore promising since men with an enlarged prostate often suffer from impotence. "

Malcolm Grant, UCL Provost, said: "The conversion of scientific results into new medicines is one of the main aims of the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, and the early success of this project underlines the importance of collaborative research between academics and clinicians in achieving this goal. The practical application of UCL research is one of this University's great strengths."

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Notes for editors:

1. Rees, R.W., Foxwell, N.A., Ralph, D.J., Kell, P.D., Moncada, S. and Cellek, S. (2003) Y-27632, a Rho-kinase inhibitor, inhibits proliferation and adrenergic contraction of prostatic smooth muscle cells. Journal of Urology, December 2003.
2. This research has been supported by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (www.jdf.org) and St Peter's Andrology Research Fund (www.ucl.ac.uk/uro-neph/spt/).
3. For more information on Dr Cellek's laboratory at the Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research, please visit: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/wibr/3/research/neuro/sc/sc.htm ).
4. For media queries, contact Dominique Fourniol on 0207 679 9728, d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk.

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