Results from an early-phase clinical trial indicate that a new chemotherapy agent called troxacitabine is safe and may play an important role in the future treatment of some leukemias, according to a recent article published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
Leukemia is a cancer of the blood cells. There are different forms of leukemia, depending upon which type of blood cell is affected and which biological characteristics are observed. Treatment for leukemia depends on the type and extent of disease, but may consist of chemotherapy, radiation therapy, stem cell transplantation and/or biological therapy (strategy utilizing the body’s immune system to fight cancer). Many patients achieve anti-cancer responses following initial therapy; however, a large percentage of these patients experience a cancer recurrence or become resistant to available therapies later in the course of their disease. Therefore, researchers are continually developing and exploring new treatments for leukemia in order to improve upon survival for these patients.
Troxacitabine belongs to a class of chemotherapy agents called nucleoside analogs. Currently, the nucleoside analogs cytarabine and fludarabine are among the most active anti-leukemic agents available to patients. This prompted the development of troxacitabine, which produces anti-cancer effects in a similar manner.
Physicians from the M.D. Anderson Center in Houston, Texas recently reported preliminary results from an early phase clinical trial evaluating the safety profile of troxacitabine. Patients had either acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL), myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) or chronic myelogenous leukemia in blastic phase (CML-BP). All of the patients involved in this trial had leukemia that had progressed following standard therapies and/or no longer responded to standard therapies. Treatment with troxacitabine was generally well tolerated. Importantly, 73% of AML patients had a reduction of cancer cells in their bone marrow. One of five patients with MDS achieved a hematological (circulating blood) improvement. The one CML-BP patient in the study achieved a return to chronic phase.
These results are encouraging, and they indicate that troxacitabine may improve the treatment options for patients with advanced leukemia. Importantly, troxacitabine may potentially be used as treatment for leukemia earlier in the course of the disease. Results from future clinical trials evaluating troxacitabine alone or in combination with other treatments will help establish the role of this novel agent in the treatment of leukemia.
Patients with leukemia may wish to speak with their physician about the risks and benefits of participating in a clinical trial further evaluating troxacitabine or other promising new treatment strategies. Two sources of information regarding ongoing trials include comprehensive, easy-to-use listing services provided by the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov) and www.eCancerTrials.com. eCancerTrials.com also provides personalized clinical trial searches on behalf of patients. (Journal of Clinical Oncology, Vol 19, No 3, pp 762-771, 2001)