New Therapy for Leukemia in the Works

Chronic myeloid leukemia and placental growth factor being studied

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

(RxWiki News) Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) results when the growth of white blood cells goes berserk and too many are produced in the bone marrow. A new method to treat this disease is being studied.

In most cases, CML can be treated with a drug known as Gleevec (imatinib). This medicine targets a defective chromosome, known as the Philadelphia chromosome, that's at the heart of CML. But Gleevec isn't always effective because the disease is too advanced or patients become resistant to the drug.

Researchers at the VIB Vesalius Research Centre, K.U. Leuven are looking to see if placental growth factor (PlGF) can be used to treat patients with CML who don't respond to Gleevec.

"Placental growth factor may offer new therapies for chronic myeloid leukemia patients."

Current research has shown that PlGF plays a role in CML and that antibodies (substances that fight off intruders) against PlGF actually block the growth of particular tumors.

Elevated levels of PlGF are found in humans and mice with CML. Investigators have found that PlGF encourages CML cells to grow. It also works to form blood vessels in bone marrow.

In animal studies, scientists have found that blocking PlGF extend the lives of mice who are resistant to imatinib.

While these findings are promising, lead investigator, Peter Carmeliet, director of VIB Vesalius Research Centre at the K.U. Leuven, says more study is needed.

This research is published in the journal Cancer Cell.

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Review Date: 
July 17, 2011
Last Updated:
November 8, 2012