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UF oncologists fight leukemia with two-pronged therapy, clinical trials planned
Date:6/3/2010

A new therapy mounts a double-barreled attack on leukemia, targeting not just the cancer cells but also the environment in which those cells live and grow, University of Florida researchers report.

Like striking an enemy camp directly as well as cutting off its source of food and other resources, the agent, called Oxi4503, poisons leukemia cells and destroys the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen and nutrients.

Use of the treatment in mouse models of acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML, is described online and in an upcoming print issue of the journal Blood. The researchers plan human tests of the drug at Shands at UF later this year.

"We've identified a new tool to dissect out the specifics of the relationship between leukemia cells and the blood vessels that supply them," said Christopher Cogle, M.D., the UF College of Medicine oncologist who is senior author of the paper and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. "What we are offering is a brand new treatment by a very different mechanism to people who desperately need something new."

Each year, more than 120,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and about 80 percent of them die of the disease because there are no effective treatments, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some AMLs return after initially successful chemotherapy, while others do not respond at all. In addition, chemotherapy is too toxic for some elderly people, so they need an alternative.

Many treatments and studies focus on killing cancer cells, but very few target the microenvironment in which those cells grow. That means paying attention to blood vessels, bone marrow, growth factors and cell-to-cell interaction and binding.

Existing therapies that destroy blood vessels do so by targeting a growth factor called VEGF-A, but they are not effective long term at eliminating leukemia. To try to find a strategy that attacked multiple targets
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Contact: Czerne M. Reid
czerne@ufl.edu
352-273-5814
University of Florida
Source:Eurekalert

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