The University of Glasgow has discovered an “extremely effective” way to treat leukaemia patients who are resistant to treatment.

Acute myeloid leukaemia is one of the most “aggressive” blood cancers and kills over 90% patients over the age of 60.

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Researchers are using a new drug called venetoclax, with chemotherapy, to treat certain patients.

Dr Karen Keeshan, project leader and Reader at The Paul O’Gorman Leukaemia Research Centre, said: “We can identify specific groups of patients that have a ‘gene gone wrong’.

“We are proposing new better treatment specifically for these patients.

“Because the disease is very mixed in the population, it is important to know what patients would benefit from this treatment.

“And that’s what we have done – combining treatment with standard therapy and an added drug.”

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Image: Claire Hutchison

Around 600 people in the UK are diagnosed every year with the disease.

Scientists have tested for a gene called Trib2 to find patients most suited to the treatment.

Increased activity of Trib2 leads to patients being resistant to chemotherapy treatment.

Using the combined treatment for these specific patients has already proved to be very effective.

Dr Keeshan said: “It normally takes years and years for drugs to get to the clinical trials and get to the patient.

“But the beauty of this drug is that it already at that stage.”

The findings were published in the journal Oncotarget several weeks ago.

 

Featured image: AFIP Atlas of Tumor Pathology

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