DENVER, Colo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Acute myeloid leukemia, also known as AML is an aggressive cancer that attacks the bone marrow. Around 30,000 people in the US are diagnosed with it each year. It’s the most common type of leukemia in older adults yet continues to have the lowest survival rates. But now, a new drug combination is stopping it in its tracks.
David Cade, AKA “Papa”, can either build it …
Fix it …
“I’ll just put a bunch of junk together,” said David.
Or figure it out.
David shared, “I love to just tear stuff up and see what makes it work.”
But there wasn’t anything in his toolbox that could repair what was wrong with him last year.
“It was just like life was leaving me,” David said.
David’s wife Dawn Cade said, “He just went to bed. So, I knew he was really sick.”
In just hours of arriving at the hospital, he was given the news.
Dawn said, “He said it’s leukemia.”
“He said you’ve got two weeks to two months to live,” David explained.
Diagnosed with AML, doctors said at 71, David wouldn’t survive traditional high-intensive chemotherapy.
“I basically told my kids goodbye, my grandkids goodbye,” said David.
Dan Pollyea, MD, MS, Clinical director of Leukemia Services, University of Colorado Cancer Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus did have one option. An FDA- approved clinical trial testing a low dose chemo combined with the pill venetoclax, a drug that targets leukemia stem cells.
“We’ve never seen a drug work like this, to target any type of cancer cell, let alone a stem cell,” said Dr. Pollyea.
The drug kills a protein called BCL2. This protein feeds the leukemia stem cells when it dies, so does the stem cell.
Dr. Pollyea explained, “This is a completely new way to kill a cancer.”
Before venetoclax only a minority of older patients would respond to their therapies. With this new treatment, over 70 percent achieve a remission.
Dr. Pollyea told Ivanhoe, “That’s the dream of a lifetime.”
David received the treatment. Eight days later …
“He says we can’t find it. It’s not in your body,” David said.
Now more than a year out …
“They can’t find a trace of it,” Dawn shared.
David is grateful: “I’m so blessed, I’ve been blessed all my life, but this is truly a blessing.”
The CU Cancer Hematology teams believe this new approach to killing cancer could destroy other tumor types including breast, pancreatic and colon. There are two clinical trials enrolling patients right now, including the very first one for younger AML patients. For more information call 720-848-6400 or you can find more information at this website: Https://clinicaltrials.ucdenver.edu/home/viewtrialdetails?trialid=5322
Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Field Producer; Rusty Reed, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Jamison Kozcan, Editor.
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TOPIC: LEUKEMIA CURE? NEW APPROACH TO KILL CANCER
REPORT: MB #4636
BACKGROUND: Adult acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal myeloblasts (a type of white blood cell), red blood cells, or platelets. The early signs and symptoms of AML may be like those caused by the flu or other common diseases. Symptoms include fever, shortness of breath, easy bruising or bleeding, petechiae (flat, pinpoint spots under the skin caused by bleeding), weakness or feeling tired, and weight loss or loss of appetite. Different types of treatment are available for patients with AML. Some treatments are standard, and some are being tested in clinical trials.
STANDARD TREATMENT: Dan Pollyea, MD, MS, the Clinical Director of Leukemia Services at the University of Colorado Cancer Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus talked about standard treatment, saying, “Historically the treatment of AML would require very intensive chemotherapy regimens that require like a month long stay in the hospital, high complication rates, high death rates – up to 20 percent of people die from these treatments, not even from their disease. And that’s the way we’ve treated this. That’s been the standard of care for AML for decades.”
(Source: Dan Pollyea, MD, MS)
NEW RESEARCH: Dr. Pollyea explains how a potential new treatment seems to work better, “The first clinical trial with Venetoclax in AML was for newly diagnosed older AML patients. And this was a clinical trial that we did here at the University of Colorado and was also done at multiple other centers across the United States. We put a large percentage of the patients on the clinical trial because we were so committed to this idea because so much of the preclinical work had been done here. And very quickly into this clinical trial, we recognized that something extraordinary was happening. We were getting responses in patients who we would never expect to respond to any conventional therapy.” Dr. Pollyea explained how the course works: “The regimen consists of two therapies. One is a low dose chemotherapy treatment that frankly we’ve been using for many years for this disease. We still give that, but we pair it with this pill Venetoclax, the BCL-2 inhibitor. This combination is magical. And with these therapies together we get very high response rates, somewhere between 70, 80; we’ve even reported 90 percent response rates.”
(Source: Dan Pollyea, MD, MS)
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