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Childhood cancer drugs cure now, may cause problems later, UB research shows
Date:12/16/2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Will a drug used to treat childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and other pediatric cancers cause heart problems later in life?

UB associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, Javier G. Blanco, PhD, who sees his work as a bridge between research and clinical practice, has focused recent efforts on trying to answer this question.

Blanco and colleagues' recent study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology looked for the underlying genetic answers to why some childhood cancer survivors who were treated with anthracylines -- powerful antibiotics like Adriamycin and Daunomycin -- developed cardiomyopathy, such as congestive heart failure, later in life.

"Anthracyclines are effective drugs used to treat a variety of pediatric cancers, they are also used to treat breast cancer and other malignancies in adults," Blanco says. "After cancer, survivors can develop cardiac toxicity anywhere from one year to more than 15 years after the initial chemotherapy with anthracyclines. The window separating the effectiveness of these drugs from their toxicity is narrow. The dosage has to be precise to achieve a therapeutic effect without toxicity."

Blanco explains that the key to individualizing any drug treatment comes down to understanding the way an individual is genetically coded to respond to the drug once it enters the body, and then adjusting the dose accordingly.

A photo of Blanco is available here: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/13076.

Working closely with Smita Bhatia, MD, MPH, chair of the Department of Population Sciences at City of Hope National Medical Center in California and senior author of the study, Blanco and a team of researchers decided to look at how the drug was broken down by enzymes encoded by specific genes.

The study, which began seven years ago, compared DNA genotypes of 170 childhood cancer survivors diagnosed with anthracycli
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Contact: Sara Saldi
saldi@buffalo.edu
716-645-4593
University at Buffalo
Source:Eurekalert

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