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New drug to slow down leukemia: Study

In a breakthrough, researchers have discovered a new drug that will help those who suffers from the dreadful leukemia.

The new approach is a combination therapy – immunotherapy that will fight the T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia. The method aims at enhancing the body’s immune system with “epigenetics” – the manipulation of gene activity. The consequence is the patient experiencing diminution of the disease even after standard treatment has been unsuccessful.

Thomas P. Loughran, Jr., MD

Thomas Loughran Jr

Thomas Loughran Jr. who is one of the leader of the study and the director of University of Virginia Cancer Center in the US termed the finding to be “unbelievable.” He said, “It was unbelievable, really, seeing a patient who had already failed Campath (the drug typically used to treat the disease) literally going back into remission.”

The research conducted experiments on 8 patients suffering from T-cell prolymphocytic leukemia, which is such a rare and hostile cancer that it’s very hard to be treated.

Loughran explained that in the last few years there has been a “revolution” after notcing success with immunotherapy, and “people speculated that perhaps if you combined epigenetic and immunotherapy, that might be even more spectacular.”

Researchers think this new combination therapy is a radical combination that carries big promise to cure many other cancers too, besides T-cell prolymphotic leukemia. Not just this, the drugs involved in the treatment are easily available, which means doctors could already direct the treatment without further experiments and tests.

Although the rarity of the disease makes it difficult for the researchers to hire participants for clinical trial, Loughran believes that there is a necessity of an additional study.

It must be noted that the experiments in no way cured the patients on whom it was tried, rather it only sent them all into diminution mode hence, giving them more time to the stem cell/bone marrow transplant that could potentially save their lives.

According to the World Cancer Report, 352,000 people were diagnosed with leukemia and 265,000 died, globally in 2012. The study was published online in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

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