The use of breathing high oxygen-content gas to improve the outcome of prostate radiotherapy

University College LondonDr Roberto Alonzi£243,7122010 - 2013

Why we funded it

This research study will be able to provide rapid results. If proven successful, the technique being tested could be adopted quickly into current hospital practice and provide a simple, inexpensive way to improve the efficacy of existing radiotherapy treatment for prostate cancer.

Scientific Title

A Phase Ib/II trial of Prostate Radiotherapy in Conjunction with Carbogen and Nicotinamide (PROCON)

Research project summary

Dr Alonzi's research group has already shown that a simple, low-cost measure to increase oxygen levels in tumours significantly improves the outcomes of radiotherapy treatment for bladder cancer.  This research project will test the same approach for prostate cancer radiotherapy.

Fifty men receiving radiotherapy for localised prostate cancer will be asked to participate in the main study.  Each man will breathe a high-oxygen gas, carbogen, during radiotherapy and also take nicotinamide tablets (vitamin B3) on each day of radiotherapy treatment.  Twenty men will also be invited to participate in imaging research, which will monitor the effects of the carbogen and nicotinamide on tumour oxygen levels during radiotherapy using MRI scans.  Men will also be asked for permission to collect tissue samples from their tumour for the researchers to study in detail in the laboratory.

This research will take 3 years in total and, at the end of this time, it is hoped the intervention will have proved effective enough to go forward into large multi-centre clinical trials that would provide the evidence needed for carbogen and nicotinamide to be widely adopted in prostate cancer radiotherapy in the NHS.  If so, this research could provide a straightforward way to improve prostate cancer survival rates in men treated with radiotherapy.