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VCU Massey Cancer Center sees potential in novel leukemia treatment
Date:5/22/2012

Richmond, Va. (May 22, 2012) Scientists at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center may be one step closer to developing a new therapy for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) after discovering that the targeted agents obatoclax and sorafenib kill leukemia cells much more effectively when combined than when the drugs are administered individually.

Recently published in the journal Blood, the results of a study led by Steven Grant, M.D., Shirley Carter Olsson and Sture Gordon Olsson Chair in Oncology Research, associate director for translational research and program co-leader of Developmental Therapeutics at VCU Massey Cancer Center, and Mohamed Rahmani, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Internal Medicine at VCU School of Medicine, showed that the combination of obatoclax and sorafenib synergized to induce a form of cell suicide known as apoptosis and reduced the growth and survival of several types of AML cells while exerting only limited toxicity toward normal, healthy tissues. The results were first obtained in test-tube experiments and were then confirmed by similar findings and extended survival in animal models of AML.

"Prior research suggested that these two drugs may enhance each other's activity as they inhibit complementary survival pathways in leukemia cells," says Grant. "The results of our study are promising. We're looking forward to translating these findings into clinical trials, and we are hopeful we can bring a new, potentially more effective treatment to patients suffering from AML."

Sorafenib is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat kidney and liver cancers, but recently has been shown to kill a diverse array of malignant cells, including AML cells, particularly those with a specific mutation in a protein known as FLT3. Obatoclax is currently being investigated in clinical trials for various blood cancers.

In AML cells, Grant's team found the combination therapy caused profoun
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Contact: John Wallace
wallacej@vcu.edu
804-628-1550
Virginia Commonwealth University
Source:Eurekalert

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