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Another 'smart' cancer drug can have toxic effects on the heart
Date:12/13/2007

Another FDA-approved targeted cancer drug, sunitinib (SutentTM, Pfizer), may be associated with cardiac toxicity, report researchers at Childrens Hospital Boston, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute (Boston), and Thomas Jefferson University (Philadelphia). Their collaborative study, led by Ming Hui Chen, MD, MMSc, a cardiologist at Childrens who specializes in the cardiac health of cancer patients, appears in the December 15 issue of The Lancet, accompanied by an editorial.

Sunitinib is one of several new smart cancer drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors that targets specific signaling molecules inside cancer cells that aid cancer spread. Another targeted cancer therapy, imatinib (GleevecTM, Novartis Pharmaceuticals), was reported last year in Nature Medicine to be associated with heart failure in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia.

Sunitinib was originally thought to be relatively free of cardiac side effects. However, a new retrospective analysis, focused on cardiovascular events, revealed a risk for heart failure, myocardial infarction and hypertension in 75 adult patients with imatinib-resistant, gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST) receiving multiple cycles of sunitinib in a phase I/II trial at Dana-Farber.

Of the 75, six (8 percent) developed symptoms consistent with moderate-to-severe congestive heart failure, and two had heart attacks. In all, eight (11 percent) had some kind of cardiovascular event while receiving sunitinib at FDA-approved or lower doses. Patients with preexisting coronary artery disease were more likely to develop cardiac problems. Nineteen percent of the 36 patients receiving the FDA-approved dose had decreases in left ventricular ejection fraction, a measure of the hearts pumping ability.

In addition, 47 percent (35 of 75) developed hypertension. Hypertension is a common side effect with certain cancer drugs, but the degree of hypertension both the percentage of affected patients and the
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Contact: Anna Gonski
anna.gonski@childrens.harvard.edu
617-919-3110
Children's Hospital Boston
Source:Eurekalert

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