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Published on 29 July 2010

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Leukaemia drug test for patients

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A new test can help doctors identify the most suitable drug – or drug combination – for individual patients being treated for leukaemia, researchers have revealed.

Imatinib is the standard drug used for treating leukaemia and rather than killing all rapidly multiplying cancer cells, it blocks the cells’ enzymes.

The test, designed by scientists in Japan, would be carried out on those patients with chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) who are likely to be resistant to imatinib.

Doctors could use the information to measure the doses of drugs or type of therapy most suitable for each patient, Yusuke Ohba, a lecturer at Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine said.

He said: “Most patients are sensitive to imatinib when they are diagnosed with CML, but resistance can indeed be acquired during or after imatinib treatment.”

He continued: “With our test, we can identify the most suitable drug, dose and/or drug combination, enabling therapy to be tailor-made for each individual patient. I believe this approach will make CML care more accurate and effective.”

The health of relapse patients can deteriorate dramatically if they are given the wrong treatment, the study, published in Clinical Cancer Research, explains.

Clinical Cancer Research



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