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Back to Hematology Conference Calendar

Zarnestra (tipifarnib) can help patients at high-risk for developing AML

December 4-7, 2004. San Diego, California.

 
The American Society of Hematology is the world's largest professional society concerned with the management of blood disorders.
 

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SAN DIEGO - The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center offers these news items presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

An oral targeted therapy gentle enough to be used by patients in their 70s or 80s is showing benefit in treating high-risk myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a pre-leukemic disorder that can progress to acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

The drug R115777 (Zarnestra) (tipifarnib) produced responses that ranged from complete responses to improvement in blood counts in about one-third of 82 patients treated at seven different hospitals in the United States, Canada, and Europe, says the study's lead investigator, Razelle Kurzrock, M.D., a professor in the Department of Experimental Therapeutics at M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.

That level of response, as well as side effects that are well tolerated, can be a boon to the mostly elderly patients who develop the syndrome, Kurzrock says. "It is one more drug that can be tried to help improve blood counts and prevent leukemia development in these patients," she says.

At the time the study began, there was no approved therapy to treat MDS, but recently, the FDA approved use of azacytidine (Vidaza), which is a chemotherapy drug administered subcutaneously. Zarnestra helps about as many patients as Vidaza, "but for diseases like this, you need more than one drug because the syndrome is made up of numerous subtypes," Kurzrock says. "If one drug doesn't help, then the other might; or they could potentially be used together."

Zarnestra belongs to a group of drugs known as farnesyl transferase inhibitors, which block enzymes needed for the activation of cancer-promoting proteins. While the drug was initially believed to act primarily on the ras gene, which is mutated in about 25 percent of MDS patients, recent studies including this one demonstrate that patients whose ras gene is normal can benefit, Kurzrock says. "It has become apparent that Zarnestra regulates other important cancer genes, although we don't know which ones they are."

ASH 2004: ABSTRACT #1436

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The materials presented here were prepared by independent authors under the editorial supervision of The Doctors Lounge, and do not represent a publication of the American Society of Hematology. These materials and the related activity are not sanctioned by the American Society of Hematology or the commercial supporter of the conference, and do not constitute an official part of that conference.

The material presented here does not reflect the views of The Doctors Lounge or the companies providing unrestricted educational grants. These materials may discuss uses and dosages for therapeutic products that have not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. A qualified health care professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product discussed. All readers or continuing education participants should verify all information and data before treating patients or employing any therapies described in this educational activity.

Copyright ? 2004 The Doctors Lounge.

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