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Gleevec Shows Promise Against Kaposi's Sarcoma

Drug slowed cancer growth in small number of AIDS patients

TUESDAY, Nov. 30, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- The drug Gleevec (imatinib) has shown promising activity in AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma, says a small study in the Nov. 30 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

The drug inhibits pathways that spur cancer growth, which led to regression of tumors in five patients within four weeks, the study said. With the other five patients, the disease stabilized and they didn't develop any new tumors.

"Imatinib is a targeted therapy originally shown to be effective in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. This study and others are showing that the drug is also active in other cancers that express some of the same proteins," study author Dr. Henry B. Koon, an instructor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston, said in a statement.

"Studies like this one represent an exciting time in oncology, when our understanding of the development of diseases like KS coincide with the availability of effective treatments. Further research on imatinib in [Kaposi's sarcoma] patients will be needed to determine appropriate dosing schedules," Koon said.

Kaposi's sarcoma is characterized by soft purplish tumors on the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs.

More information

The American Cancer Society has more about Kaposi's sarcoma.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Oncology, news release, Nov. 30, 2004
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