Researchers Develop New Leukemia Therapy

GAINESVILLE, Fla., June 7 (UPI) — U.S. oncologists say they’ve developed a therapy that targets not only leukemia cells, but also the blood vessels that supply the cancer cells with nutrients.

University of Florida researchers say the new drug, Oxi4503, poisons leukemia cells and destroys the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen and nutrients. They said the agent was successful in the treatment of mouse models of acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML, and human tests are expected to begin later this year.

“We’ve identified a new tool to dissect out the specifics of the relationship between leukemia cells and the blood vessels that supply them,” said Dr. Christopher Cogle, senior author of the study at the university’s Shands Cancer Center. “What we are offering is a brand new treatment by a very different mechanism to people who desperately need something new.”

After the initial Oxi4503 treatment, however, the researchers found a thin layer of viable tumor tissue remained that was fed by newly formed vessels. To disrupt that secondary formation of blood vessels, the researchers blocked the growth factor by administering an antibody called bevacizumab after the blood vessel-destroying agent OXi4503. The combined approach led to enhanced leukemia regression.

The study appears online in advance of the print edition of the journal Blood.

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