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First-in-class treatment for acute leukemia
Date:12/8/2009

EUREKA project E! 3172 NKSTIM has produced a new potential drug to stimulate cancer patients' own 'natural killer' cells to attack and eliminate cancer cells; currently undergoing clinical testing in patients with leukaemia or myeloma. Existing knowledge of how transplanted bone marrow cells eradicate tumours gave the foundation for designing the new drug. Providing the remaining clinical trials are successful, the drug will offer the first real treatment option for older people with acute myeloid leukaemia, whose age precludes them from bone marrow transplantation. It also promises improved options for treating other types of cancer, such as multiple myeloma and lymphoma.

Myeloid leukaemia is characterised by rapid growth of abnormal white blood cells in the bone marrow, and it may exist in acute (AML) or chronic (CML) forms. AML is more prevalent among older people, where it is virtually incurable; progressing rapidly and only 10% of patients survive more than 5 years. The best treatment for leukaemia is bone marrow transplantation, which provides fresh donor-derived immune cells. One type of these the 'natural killer' (NK) cells release cytotoxic substances that can destroy abnormal, cancerous white blood cells without affecting the normal blood cells. The effectiveness of NK cells in various types of cancer has been reported in both mice and humans. The problem is that bone marrow transplantation is not available to elderly patients, because their general health status rarely supports the very arduous transplantation procedures.

To avoid the need for bone marrow transplantation, the NKSTIM project set out to design and generate a drug that would stimulate the patients' own NK cells. The project brought together the biotechnology skills of the French SME, Innate Pharma, with Novo Nordisk, a large biopharmaceutical manufacturer from Denmark. The project defined the type of molecule needed, used a rational and highly targeted approach to
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Contact: Francois Romagn
Francois.Romagne@innate-pharma.fr
33-430-303-030
EUREKA
Source:Eurekalert

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