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Leukemia Drug May Help Some Ovarian Cancer Patients

Sprycel limited the growth of cancer cells in lab study

THURSDAY, Nov. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A drug for people with a form of leukemia holds promise as a possible treatment for ovarian cancer, new research suggests.

The drug dasatinib (Sprycel) is used to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. Researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles report that the drug limited the growth and invasive powers of ovarian cancer cells.

It also proved to have even more cancer-fighting powers when it was combined with chemotherapy and used to fight certain kinds of ovarian cancer cells known as Src dependent, according to the report published in the Nov. 10 issue of the BMJ.

Ovarian cancer is the most deadly cancer that strikes the female reproductive system and is expected to kill 15,500 women in the United States this year. The cancer is very difficult to treat.

"It is important to remember that this work is only on cancer cell lines, but it is significant enough that it should be used to justify clinical trials to confirm that women with this type of ovarian cancer could benefit," Gottfried Konecny, an assistant professor of hematology/oncology and first author of the study, said in a UCLA news release.

An estimated one-third of women with ovarian cancer have the type known as Src dependent.

"We were able to identify markers in the pre-clinical setting that would allow us to predict response to Sprycel," Konecny said. "These may help us in future clinical trials in selecting patients for studies of the drug."

More information

Learn more about ovarian cancer from the U.S. National Cancer Institute.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: University of California Los Angeles, news release, Nov. 10, 2009

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