OHSU Scientists Begin Human Trials Of A Drug Aimed At The Underlying Cause Of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

For the first time, patients with a specific form of leukemia will receive an investigational drug therapy aimed precisely at the molecules causing their cancer. The first patient, 68-year-old Bud Romine from Tillamook, Ore., will take his first dose of the experimental drug on Thursday, June 25, 1998, at Oregon Health Sciences University.

The often fatal blood disease is called chronic myelogenous leukemia and strikes about 6,000 Americans annually. "The highly targeted drug eliminates leukemia cells in mice, and will be used for the first time in humans this summer," explained Brian Druker, M.D., principal investigator of the trial and associate professor of hematology and medical oncology at Oregon Health Sciences University.

Until now, patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia have been treated with chemotherapy aimed at killing rapidly dividing cells or they have undergone bone marrow transplantation aimed at replacing their diseased marrow.

"This experimental therapy is different than chemotherapy because it targets leukemia cells and leaves normal cells alone," explained Druker.

"When I was diagnosed with leukemia four years ago I began chemotherapy," said Romine. "But I never went into remission. Then I read about Brian Druker's work in The Oregonian and I wrote him a letter."

Romine will be the first of about 50 patients to enter the clinical trial. Within a year, physicians expect to determine the success of the therapy. All patients in the trial will receive the drug, and dosages will be escalated until either significant benefits or side effects appear.

The multicenter trial was designed by the Oregon Cancer Center based at OHSU and will also be conducted at UCLA and M.D. Anderson Medical Center in Texas.

"The commitment of the Oregon Cancer Center to controlling cancer and leukemia is based upon two fundamental premises. First, you can't prevent or cure cance

Contact: Henry Sessions
Oregon Health & Science University

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