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Double assault on tough types of leukemias
Date:9/20/2012

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Crispino expects alisertib will be a more gentle cancer drug without the ravaging side effects of conventional chemotherapies. This is because the drug specifically targets a key enzyme, avoids healthy cells in the bone marrow and blood, and will probably be more effective at lower doses than drugs tested in previous studies.

"This study has given us a scientific rationale to take this drug to an early phase clinical trial in this very challenging form of leukemia," said Jessica Altman, M.D., assistant professor in hematology/oncology at Feinberg and an oncologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Altman also is a member of the Lurie Cancer Center. Together with other leukemia specialists, she is designing a multi-center clinical trial planned to open in 2013.

Investigators also identified another attack plan for other types of leukemias. Sifting through 9,000 chemical compounds during the study, they found that dimethylfasudil boosted the number of mature bone marrow cells and shot down malignant ones.

Dimethylfasudil could be useful against AMKL and tolerated better by patients, Crispino says. However, he adds that alisertib is moving forward now because there is urgent need and the drug is available. Meanwhile, Crispino's team and other scientists at Northwestern's Center for Molecular Innovation and Drug Discovery are developing the compound dimethylfasudil into an acceptable anticancer drug for clinical trials, which may take two to three years.

Investigators believe dimethylfasudil may be valuable to fight other types of leukemias because it has broad action against other enzymes that let cancer cells reproduce.


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Contact: Marla Paul
Marla-Paul@northwestern.edu
312-503-8928
Northwestern University
Source:Eurekalert

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