Your Health: Personalized leukemia treatments

Published: May. 1, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) is the most common blood and bone marrow cancer in adults.

About 20,000 Americans will be diagnosed with AML annually, and 11,000 will die from it. But researchers at the University of Cincinnati are leading a trial designed to personalize treatment for this deadly form of cancer.

Acute myelogenous leukemia often strikes people in their golden years, but only one in 10 patients over the age of 60 will still be alive five years after diagnosis. It’s a cancer that progresses very rapidly.

“Although it has one name there are probably 15, 20 different types of AML,” said Dr. John Byrd. “Before, when people were diagnosed with AML, they would come in and everybody would be treated the same way.”

Usually with toxic chemotherapy and pills. Byrd and his colleagues are looking at personalized treatments for AML. Researchers will use genetic sequencing to identify mutations, or what drives each patient’s disease, and then match treatments to the patient.

“Once a medicine gets approved in one indication, it can potentially be applied to a lot of other types of cancers that have that same mutation, but might be in a different part of the body,” Byrd said.

The University of Cincinnati is one of 16 sites nationally enrolling patients. While traditional clinical trials usually study one drug, or one combination of drugs, this is considered a master trial under the guidance of the FDA since it is testing multiple therapies in multiple sites at the same time.

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