Diabetes Drug may Help in Leukaemia - Dream Health

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Monday 7 September 2015

Diabetes Drug may Help in Leukaemia


Diabetes Drug Helpful in Fighting Blood Cancer

According to a research in the journal Nature, a drug used in treating diabetes could be helpful in fighting blood cancer – chronic myeloid leukaemia – CML, which is a rare kind of blood cancer. Those receiving the combination therapy would be probably free from this disease.

Around 600 individuals in the UK had been diagnosed with this condition every year. Although some successful treatments do exist, they are not helpful to every patient while some tend to be resistant to conventional therapy.

In the research, scientist provide a combination of anti-diabetic drug pioglitazone together with standard treatment to around 24 individuals whose CML was active inspite of receiving conventional drugs. Twelve months thereafter, over 50% of the individuals who were given the combination treatment were in reduction.

The first three individuals who had been given the drug showed no reoccurrences of cancer in the five years which followed. Those withuntreated CML made excessive amount of abnormal white blood cells and over a period of time, these tend to crowd over the normal white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets the person has, thus making it difficult for patients to mount a defence against infections, causing some to bleed easily.

Glitazone & Standard CML Drug – Relief for 5 Years

The present standard treatment like imatinib includes therapies. According to Cancer Research UK’s chief clinician, Prof Peter Johnson, he states, that `the outlook for people with chronic myeloid leukaemia has improved dramatically since the introduction of drugs like imatinib. However, in some patient, these drugs are not always effective.

The study is an interesting example of understanding how the biology of cancer stem cells could be helpful in improving treatment for them. But this is an early stage research and only a small number of patients have been studied. It would be interesting to see if this combination is successful in larger clinical trials’.

Others add that the side-effects of pioglitazone would have to be taken into consideration if the treatment is to be provided in routine care. Researchers observed that patients suffering from chronic myeloid leukaemia received glitazone, which is a class of drug for type 2 diabetes together with the standard CML drug imatinib were disease free for at least five years.

Gleevec – Controls Disease& Not Source of Disease

Imatinib which is commercially known as Gleevec, has a remarkable track record in controlling chronic myeloid leukaemia and enabling patients in leading a normal life. However, in spite of its effectiveness, dormant, drug resistant leukemic cells lay in wait in bone marrow and later on transform into highly destructive cells.

Gleevec tends to control the disease though cannot get rid of the source of the disease, as per chief scientific officer for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, who was not involved in the new research. Nonetheless adding in these glitazones, claims that one can eliminate the disease entirely according to Greenberger and these are still early days for the work.

The two well-known glitazones are Actos and Avandia. He adds that it would be ideal to run a randomized controlled trial directly comparing the effectiveness of combination therapy – imatinib and glitazone versus imatinib alone.

Patients could be treated with glitazones for months without any side effects and it would be nice to see over a period of time if the combination therapy could eliminate the disease.

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