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Drug improves survival and quality of life for people with myelofibrosis
Date:2/29/2012

HOUSTON - A drug that relieves the severe symptoms of a life-threatening bone marrow cancer called myelofibrosis also improves the survival of patients with the disease, according to a phase III clinical trial published in the March 1 edition of New England Journal of Medicine.

"The Phase I/II clinical trial showed that ruxolitinib improves quality of life for many patients with myelofibrosis and now this phase III study indicates that the drug extends survival in a patient population that has lacked effective treatments," said study principal investigator Srdan Verstovsek, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Leukemia.

Patients who received ruxolitinib also experienced relief from the disease's debilitating symptoms, which include fatigue, weight loss, abdominal pain, severe itching, night sweats and bone pain. They were much more likely to have the drug shrink their swollen spleens, a hallmark of the disease tied to many of the symptoms.

Myelofibrosis is caused by the accumulation of malignant bone marrow cells that triggers an inflammatory response, scarring the bone marrow and limiting its ability to produce blood, resulting in anemia. About 3,000 new cases of myelofibrosis are diagnosed in the United States each year, Verstovsek said. Average survival ranges from two to 11 years, depending on a variety of prognostic factors.

Last November, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ruxolitinib, produced by Incyte Corporation and known commercially as Jakafi, for people with intermediate or high-risk myelofibrosis based in part on the results of this trial. It was the first drug approved for myelofibrosis, which has been treated with supportive care such as blood transfusions and other therapies with limited benefits.

Mortality falls by nearly half in treated group

The clinical trial enrolled 309 patients at 89 center
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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