CHICAGO—Treatment with the investigational drug radium-223 (Alpharadin) is associated with significantly increased overall survival in patients with castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC), researchers reported at the American Society of Clinical Oncology 2012 annual meeting.

In the phase 3, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled Alpharadin in Symptomatic Prostate Cancer (ALSYMPCA) trial, median overall survival among CRPC patients increased from 2.8 months at the time of a pre-planned interim analysis in June 2011 to 3.6 months in an updated analysis (14.9 months for radium-223 and 11.3 months for placebo).

In addition, radium-223 was associated with a significant delay in first skeletal-related events in CRPC patients with bone metastases. Common adverse events included anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia.

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The trial enrolled 921 patients in more than 100 centers in 19 countries. Subjects were given up to six intravenous administrations of either radium-223 or placebo in four-week intervals.

Radium-223, which is licensed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals based in Wayne, N.J.,  is a first-in-class drug. It is a bone-targeting drug that localizes specifically to bone metastases and emits alpha particles, which are highly lethal.

The beneficial effects of the compound were first discovered by Algeta based in Norway, which has led its clinical development for more than 10 years.