Almost two-thirds of AML patients over age 65 do not receive treatment for the disease because standard therapy can be risky and often is ineffective. On average, such patients survive only 1.7 months after diagnosis.
"Older leukemia patients don't have good treatment options because the chemotherapy and stem cell transplants that we commonly use for younger patients are often too toxic for them," says lead author Amanda F. Cashen, M.D., assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Oncology and a bone marrow transplant specialist with the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.
"Furthermore, the biology of acute leukemia in the older patient population is different, making their response rate lower, their risk of relapse higher and their cure rates lower," she says. "So we definitely need new therapies in that patient population — treatments that are going to be both better tolerated and more effective."
The study, to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology and now available on-line, was conducted at three sites: Washington University School of Medicine; the University of California, Los Angeles; and the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte, Calif. The researchers tested decitabine in 55 AML patients with an average age of 74 years.
Decitabine can increase the activity of genes that have been silenced in cancer cells. It works by reducing the amount of DNA that is marked with a chemical tag called a methyl group. Scientists think that the excess methylation found in cancer cells inactivates genes that normally suppress tumor development.
All patients received the same decitabine dose for five consecutive days every four weeks until their disease stopped responding to the drug and began progressing or until an adverse event occurred to prevent further participation. By comparison to standard chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation, the treatment was considered a low-intensity treatment and was more tolerable for elderly patients, especially those with accompanying medical problems.
In 24 percent of the study participants, blood counts and bone marrow returned to normal, which is considered a complete response. It took 4.5 cycles of decitabine treatment on average to achieve a complete response. In those with a complete response, average survival time was 14 months. For all study participants, average survival time was 7.7 months.
Treatment-related adverse events included low blood counts (red cells, white cells and platelets), infection, fever and fatigue. Almost half of the study participants had at least one serious adverse event. Seven patients discontinued treatment, and three patients died as the result of adverse events.
"We have to wait for the results of further trials of decitabine to have a better estimate of the response rate and survival outcome compared to other low intensity options for older adults," Cashen says. "This study can't definitively establish decitabine's role for treating older adults with AML, but it certainly excites us to study it more."
Cashen AF, Schiller GJ, O'Donnell MR, DiPersio JF. Multicenter, phase II study of decitabine for the first-line treatment of older patients with acute myeloid leukemia. Journal of Clinical Oncology. Dec. 21, 2009 (advance on-line publication).
Funding from MGI Pharma Inc. and Eisai Inc. supported this research.
Washington University School of Medicine's 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked third in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.
Siteman Cancer Center is the only federally designated Comprehensive Cancer Center within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. Siteman Cancer Center is composed of the combined cancer research and treatment programs of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine. Siteman has satellite locations in West County and St. Peters, in addition to its full-service facility at Washington University Medical Center on South Kingshighway.
Gwen Ericson | EurekAlert!
At last, butterflies get a bigger, better evolutionary tree
16.02.2018 | Florida Museum of Natural History
New treatment strategies for chronic kidney disease from the animal kingdom
16.02.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale
Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...
For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.
But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...
Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.
The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...
Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters
Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...
Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).
Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...
15.02.2018 | Event News
13.02.2018 | Event News
12.02.2018 | Event News
16.02.2018 | Information Technology
16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine
16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy