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Drug has ability to cure type of leukemia
Date:10/2/2007

tate. Evidence indicates that when such sleeping stem cells wake up, Imatinib can kill them.

In their paper, the scientists present a mathematical formula that can calculate how long it would take to kill all of the stem cells and cure the cancer. This length of time which could be different for each patient is based on how often the cancerous stem cells fall asleep and how quickly they wake up. Once the scientists can test their theory with patients, they will be able to determine how long the cure might take.

There is evidence that a complete cure is possible. Several patients have been reported to have no symptoms after two months without therapy, which is thought to suggest a complete cure, Komarova said. This evidence supports our theory. Basically, one has to be on therapy long enough for all of the stem cells to wake up and be killed by the drug.

In addition to sleeping stem cells, another barrier to eradication by Imatinib is that cancer cells can mutate to become unresponsive to certain drugs. Conventional thought is that if sleeping stem cells prolong a cure, other cancer cells will have ample time to mutate and become drug resistant.

The UCI scientists, however, have proved this theory wrong. Their calculations show that mutant cells develop early on, in many cases before the patients know they are sick, and do not develop during the treatment process. Using mathematics, they developed a way to calculate the probability that certain mutations exist in a patient. Based on this, one can determine what course of treatment should be used to overcome the resistance.

The model requires the number of cancer cells that exist, how fast the cells divide and die, and how fast they go to sleep and wake up, Wodarz said. Once you have those numbers, you can determine how many drugs to use in combination to make sure drug resistant mutants do not become problems.


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Contact: Jennifer Fitzenberger
jfitzen@uci.edu
949-824-3969
Public Library of Science
Source:Eurekalert

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