Chemo Cocktail Produces Better Results

Acute myeloid leukemia combination therapy with vorinostat

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Cancer chemotherapy is a rapidly changing field, with many drugs to choose from and more added to the mix each year. Knowing what to to use is a challenge for every oncologist. 

A new therapy for patients with acute myeloid leukemia resulted in a remission rate of 75 percent, beating the standard therapy. 

"Ask your oncologist about Zolinza (vorinostat)."

In a December presentation to the American Society of Hematology, researchers stated the standard combination of Cytosar-U (cytarabine) and Idamycin (idarubicin) to treat patients with acute myeloid leukemia was greatly improved with the addition of Zolinza, a histone deacetylase inhibitor.

In particular, patients with high-risk leukemias responded even better to the treatment than expected.

Guillermo Garcia-Manero, M.D., professor in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, led the phase II clinical trial, where the effectiveness of the drug is examined in small groups of patients. 

"The overall response rates are encouraging, and most higher risk patients did very well," Dr. Garcia-Manero said. He will be the principal investigator of the Phase III trial, which will be conducted through the National Cancer Institute's Cooperative Oncology Groups.

75 patients were followed during the study, and 57 achieved complete remission, with another seven achieving complete remission except for in platelets. Notably, all 11 patients with a specific high risk genetic mutation called Flt-3 ITD achieved complete remission. 

Zolinza is believed to reactivate genes that had been blocked by the cancer. Phase III clinical trials will begin soon, after which the drug will be made available commercially. Cost varies, but is estimated to be roughly $2,000 per month. 

No potential financial conflicts of interest were disclosed in the paper. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
January 21, 2012
Last Updated:
January 24, 2012