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New Generation of Thalidomide Shows Promise Against Cancer

Latest research finds more potent drug stems bone marrow cancer

TUESDAY, Dec. 10, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- A next-generation version of thalidomide shows early promise in treating people with recurrent multiple myeloma, an incurable form of bone marrow cancer.

Early data from an American study shows that the drug, dubbed CC-5013, causes myeloma cells to self-destruct and inhibits their ability to localize and grow in bone marrow. The new drug, known by the brand name Revimid, was designed to be more potent than thalidomide but with fewer side effects.

The drug also seems to stimulate the immune system to attack myeloma cells, say researchers from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The findings were presented yesterday at the American Society of Hematologists' annual meeting in Philadelphia.

Another study of CC-5013 by University of Arizona researchers found the drug produces red blood cells in people with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a life-threatening blood disorder where people can't produce enough red blood cells.

The 16-week study found that six of nine people with MDS showed improved blood function, and four no longer needed blood transfusions. Some people in the study also had a complete or partial remission from the blood cell abnormality that causes MDS.

About 10,000 people are diagnosed with MDS each year in the United States. Blood transfusions are sometimes given to people with MDS to relieve anemia symptoms such as fatigue and weakness.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about multiple myeloma. And here's where to go to find out more about myelodysplastic syndrome.

SOURCE: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, news release, Dec. 9, 2002
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