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Use Two Drugs at Once to Beat Leukemia: Study

THURSDAY, Aug. 16 -- Simultaneous treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients with a combination of the drugs Gleevec (imatinib) and Sprycel (dasatinib) may decrease the chance of cancer's return or at least increase the length of time before relapse, U.S. researchers report.

Both drugs target a protein called BCR-ABL, which is known to cause CML.

Normally, CML patients are first treated with Gleevec. If the cancer develops resistance to Gleevec and returns, it's treated with Sprycel. But it's now known that BCR-ABL can also develop resistance to Sprycel.

Based on their study of 12 CML patients, a team at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, recommend that rather than sequential treatment with Gleevec and Sprycel, CML patients should be treated with both drugs when they're first diagnosed in order to prevent, or delay, the emergence of drug-resistant forms of BCR-ABL.

The study was published online Aug. 16 in advance of publication in the September print issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

The researchers also noted that a new drug that targets Gleevec- and Sprycel-resistant BCR-ABL is currently in clinical trials.

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Posted: August 2007