FRIDAY, Feb. 1, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- The drug sorafenib shows promise in the treatment of people with acute myeloid leukemia who have specific gene mutations, say U.S. researchers.
Previous research has shown that sorafenib -- currently used to treat kidney and liver cancer -- is effective against acute myeloid leukemia cells that have internal tandem duplication (ITD) mutations of the Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene, according to background information in the study.
Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston looked at sorafenib's effect on leukemia cells that express either the common or mutant copies of FLT3. They also gave the drug to mice with leukemia cells with known FLT3 mutations and to leukemia patients with and without the FLT3 mutation.
Sorafenib slowed growth and induced cell death in the FLT3 mutant leukemia cells and increased survival of the mice with FLT3 mutant leukemia. The drug also reduced the percentage of leukemia cells in the blood and marrow of leukemia patients with the FLT3 mutation but not in leukemia patients without the mutation.
"Our findings imply that sorafenib is a potent anti-leukemic agent in patients with FLT3-ITD mutant [acute myeloid leukemia], a form of [the disease] that responds poorly to traditional chemotherapy," the study authors concluded.
The findings were published in the Jan. 29 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
The American Cancer Society has more about acute myeloid leukemia.