MS drug shows promise in 2 lethal leukemias

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Leukemia treatment

A new study suggests that an experimental drug being tested for the treatment of multiple sclerosis and to prevent organ rejection might also help people with certain deadly forms of chronic and acute leukemia.

The laboratory and animal study focused on the drug, called fingolimod. Researchers said it might help patients with advanced chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) or acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), and whose cancer cells show a particular genetic change called the Philadelphia chromosome.

The study found that the drug prevented the development of these cancers in mouse models, as well as killing laboratory-grown human CML and acute lymphocytic leukemia cells.

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Although the findings must be verified in humans through a future clinical trial, the new research also suggests that the drug might help patients with these leukemias who are resistant to imatinib (Gleevec) and dasatinib (Sprycel), two important current drugs for treating chronic myelogenous leukemia and those cases of ALL with the Philadelphia chromosome

Presently, fingolimod is in advanced clinical-trials testing for the treatment of relapsing multiple sclerosis, and to prevent organ rejection following kidney transplantation.

The new study, led by researchers with the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center, is published online Aug. 23 in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

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