Cleveland Clinic Researchers Find Highly Effective Drug Combination to Treat Bone Marrow Cancer

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Study Marks First Time Two FDA-Approved Drugs Have Been Combined to Treat MDS

3/29/10

A two-drug combination has been found to be highly effective in treating higher risk patients with myelodysplastic syndromes, according to a study published online today by the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Mikkael Sekeres, M.D., M.S., and Jaroslaw Maciejewski, M.D., Ph.D, of the Taussig Cancer Institute at Cleveland Clinic, led a multicenter study of a treatment for myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) that included a novel combination of two FDA-approved drugs.

It’s the first time two FDA-approved drugs – azacitidine and lenalidomide – have been combined for the treatment of MDS. The drug combination was well-tolerated with a response rate of 67 percent, and had a better response rate and remission rate than either drug used individually.

“This combination was so successful, it’s being incorporated into the next nationwide MDS study, as well as international MDS studies,” Dr. Sekeres said.

Cleveland Clinic served as the lead site of the Phase I study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health as part of the rare diseases network of the bone marrow failure consortium. It studied the safety of combination therapy in 18 higher-risk MDS patients with a median age of 68.

MDS is a bone marrow cancer similar to leukemia, in which stem cells fail to mature into healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets, leading to infection, anemia, and bleeding complications. About 15,000 people are diagnosed with MDS in the United States each year, and about 60,000 people are living with the disease, which primarily affects older adults.

About Taussig Cancer Institute

The Taussig Cancer Institute is one of 26 institutes at Cleveland Clinic that group multiple specialties together to provide collaborative, patient-centered care. More than 250 cancer specialists annually serve 26,000 cancer patients, applying the most effective techniques to achieve long-term survival and improved quality of life. Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit, multispecialty academic medical center. Founded in 1921, it is dedicated to providing quality specialized care and includes an outpatient clinic, a hospital with more than 1,000 staffed beds, an education institute and a research institute.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Cleveland Clinic was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,000 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 7,600 nurses at Cleveland Clinic represent more than 100 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine community hospitals in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas and Cleveland Clinic Canada. In 2008, there were more than 4.2 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 165,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 80 countries.

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