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Kidney cancer drug attacks a major type of acute myeloid leukemia
Date:1/29/2008

HOUSTON - A drug used to treat kidney cancer also targets a genetic mutation active in about one third of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), the most common and lethal form of adult leukemia, researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center report in the Jan. 29 edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

In a Phase I clinical trial, the drug sorafenib reduced the median percentage of leukemia cells circulating in the blood from 81 percent to 7.5 percent and in the bone marrow from 75.5 percent to 34 percent among AML patients whose leukemia includes the FLT3-ITD mutation. Two patients had circulating leukemia cells, or blasts, drop to zero.

"AML patients with this mutation have a particularly poor prognosis, so this highly targeted drug appears to be a significant step forward in leukemia therapy," says senior author Michael Andreeff, M.D., Ph.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy and Department of Leukemia.

The JNCI paper reports the drug's effect in lab experiments, a mouse model of the disease, and in a Phase I study of 16 patients with relapsed or resistant AML known to have the FLT3-ITD mutation.

There have been no major side effects in the clinical trial to date, so no maximum tolerated dose has been reached, Andreeff notes. The drug has little effect on cells with normal versions of the gene and does not interfere with normal blood cell formation.

A Phase I/Phase II clinical trial for AML is open at M. D. Anderson that combines sorafenib with the standard of care chemotherapy combination for AML, idarubicin and cytosine arabinoside. Presently, the trial is open for relapsed patients and those newly diagnosed with high-risk disease, says study co-author Jorge Cortes, M.D., professor in M. D. Anderson's Department of Leukemia. As safety and dose escalation research progress, sorafenib will be made available to o
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Contact: Scott Merville
sdmervil@mdanderson.org
713-792-0661
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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