13 April 2007

Gleevec fights gastro tumours

People who took the drug Gleevec after having a particular type of gastrointestinal tumour removed were less likely to have the cancer recur than people who didn't take the drug.

People who took the drug Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) after having a particular type of gastrointestinal tumour removed were significantly less likely to have the cancer recur than people who didn't take the drug, the US National Institutes of Health said Thursday in announcing results of a new study.

Some 97 percent of people who took Gleevec after removal of a primary gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) did not have a recurrence of their cancer, versus 83 percent of GIST patients who took a placebo for one year, the NIH said in a statement. The five-year trial was sponsored by the US National Cancer Institute, and conducted by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group.

The drug was generally well tolerated, and side effects were similar to those observed in prior trials of the drug for other uses. The side effects included nausea, diarrhoea, and swelling.

Major implications
Experts said the results had major implications for people with this type of cancer. "Conventional chemotherapy agents have been notoriously ineffective in GIST," said Dr Ronald DeMatteo at New York City's Memorial Sloan-Ketting Cancer Centre. "This study for the first time demonstrated that targeted molecular therapy reduces the rate of recurrence after complete removal of a primary GIST."

Gleevec belongs to a class of drugs that block cellular communication, preventing tumour growth. It was first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2002 to treat GIST tumours that couldn't be removed by surgery or had spread to other parts of the body.

Gleevec has earned a reputation as a cancer "wonder drug," for its ability to beat back leukaemia and certain types of stomach tumours. It also shows promise against autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. – (HealthDayNews)

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April 2007


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