A recent study conducted at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and Solove Research Institute reveals that there is a promising treatment for older patients suffering from acute myloid leukemia (AML). According to researchers, phase II of the study found that older patients treated with the drug decitabine had a higher than expected recovery rate. The drug was found to be most effective when taken on a strict dosing schedule.

"This study could provide a new treatment paradigm for elderly patients with AML," explains co-author Dr. John Byrd, the associate director of translational research at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Study to be Presented to Board of Researchers

The study will reportedly be presented at the 50th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology in San Francisco this week. Researchers will also be analyzing the 13,300 new cases of AML that have popped up this year alone in the United States.

AML is a rapidly progressive disease that often results in the production of immature, cells within the bone marrow and bloodstream. As a result, the body can become unable to fight off infections or even produce enough healthy red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. AML can primarily affect patients who are 60 years of age and older and it has become known as the second most common form of leukemia in adults.

A majority of elderly AML patients who are diagnosed with AML today are offered only supportive care as treatment due to the fact that their bodies are believed to be too weak to withstand the strong and life changing effects of chemotherapy.

"The treatment of AML is difficult in anybody, but particularly for older patients who don’t tolerate the ‘thunderbolt’ of intensive chemotherapy well," says Dr. William Blum, a hematologist and oncologist at Ohio State. "Some of the patients we are treating successfully had previously been told by other physicians to ‘go home and die.’ They were judged not to be candidates for any treatment at all because they likely would not survive the traditional, harsh chemotherapy approach."

The ongoing study focusing on AML in older patients, involves 33 patients from the age of 60 to 83. An estimated 58 percent of the patients studied responded, 42 percent who reportedly went into complete remission. In many cases, patients who did go into remission were able to receive bone marrow transplants as part of another clinical trial that’s been designed for older patients suffering from AML.


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