YOUR HEALTH: A new leukemia treatment with positive results

LEHI, Utah – Lila Javan was 39 when she was diagnosed with AML the first time.

"36 hours later, I was in UCLA hospital on IV, chemo, 24/7. And I didn't leave that hospital for two months."

After months of chemo and a stem cell transplant, Lila was back home with her cat O'Malley.   But four years later, the cancer came back.

"There were times when I thought I wasn't going to make it."

Most patients diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, or AML, face weeks of intense, brutal chemotherapy and maybe a stem cell transplant.

Even then, the American Cancer Society says only about 27 percent will live another five years.

David Bearss company, Tolero Pharmaceuticals, is testing a drug called Alvocidib, which targets a protein called CDK-9.

"It affects a particular protein that those AML cells like to express," explained Bearss.   "It's a survival protein; it's a protein that helps them not die."

CDK-9 allows cancer cells to ignore signals to die.   Alvocidib lets the chemotherapy in to kill the cancer.   Trials show it is improving remission rates.

Bearss says 25 percent of AML patients have something in them that allows Alvocidib to work.
They're tested for that before getting into the trial.

"It asks the question, what is the mechanism the cell is using to live, and if it's using this particular protein, then we know the drug will work," said Bearss.

Lila's in remission again, but she's still excited about Alvocidib potential.

"It's amazing," said Lila.   "You know, like I said, it would be a total game changer and so many people would be helped."

The Alvocidib trial has enrolled 400 patients and is being run at the University of Iowa and eight other sites in the US and Canada.   It's open only to people who have positive responses to the test but Tolero expects to run a bigger randomized study soon and will have a better idea of how long Alvocidib can extend people`s lives.

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Researchers are testing a drug called Alvocidib that targets a protein called CDK-9 which allow cancer cells to ignore signals to die. Alvocidib lets the chemotherapy in to kill the cancer cells. The Alvocidib Phase II clinical trials in AML enrolled more than 400 patients. The trial demonstrates that there is significant activity when alvocidib is combined with a dosing treatment that includes the standard of care agents cytarabine and mitoxantrone (ACM). The study demonstrated that ACM showed an improvement in the complete remission (CR) rate of high-risk AML compared to the standard-of-care.  (Source: http://www.toleropharma.com/alvocidib.html)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.