Leukemia pill shows promise - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Leukemia pill shows promise

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

A new pill is transforming the lives of some patients with aggressive leukemia -- many of whom are still alive years after they were told they had a few months to live.

In early-stage clinical trials, the drug Ibrutinib (ih-broo-tih-nib) prevented a relapse of C-L-L, a common form of leukemia, in seventy-five percent of patients over a two-year period. C-L-L typically affects older adults, and often doesn't require treatment.

For those who do need therapy, the options are chemotherapy or antibody treatment.

This drug targets a protein that cancer cells need to survive. It leaves other healthy cells alone, so patients report significantly fewer side effects.

It was also shown to be effective against M-L-L, a less common but very aggressive form of leukemia.

Cancer doctors say they are encouraged by the results, and believe this drug will change the way they treat these forms of the disease.

Ibrutinib has not been approved by the FDA. All of the patients in the studies had tried several other treatments and had not responded.

Outside experts say more studies are needed to see how the drug should be used -- and if there are any long-term side effects.

- Studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Studies conducted at MD Anderson Cancer Center and Ohio State's Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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