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Healthy People for Healthy Society
May 20, 2008 19:55

Leukemia cells

Russian scientists discussed new generation of pharmaceuticals for therapy of hematological oncological diseases, and these drugs showed results so good no one has ever dreamt about.

Here our readers can get acquainted with two new classes of pharmaceuticals, which dramatically changed therapy of most common blood cancer – chronic lymphatic leukemia. These agents are: new generation of cytostatic agents, which chemical structure is close to purines, and monoclonal antibodies. Chronic lymphatic leukemia is accompanied by high numbers of immature lymphocytes, leading to immunity suppression. The disease affects peripheral blood, bone marrow, spleen and liver, a human being stands naked in front of numerous infections, which are often lethal. In Russia chronic lymphatic leukemia is diagnosed about 5 thousand times every year, sick people live 8 more years in average, however, about 10% of them die within a year. For these people new pharmaceuticals are one and only hope.

Monoclonal antibodies are specific proteins, which bind with antigens, located on the surface of tumor cells, and kill these cells. Antigen protein CD52, a target for a monoclonal antibody, can be found on the surface of any T (thymus-derived) or B (bone-marrow derived) lymphocyte. Alemtuzumab antibody (anti-CD52) binds with CD52 antigen and causes a significant drop in lymphocyte numbers. Moreover, tumor cells are eliminated not only from blood, but also from bone marrow, and so-called “residual cells” (which cause disease recurrence after chemotherapy) disappear too. Drug developers explain how blood restores after therapy: since stem cells lack antigen protein CD52, they survive and form a population of healthy blood cells.



Hematologists designate a huge advantage of new pharmaceutical agents: they are selective, having no effect on other cell types and causing no complications in heart and gastrointestinal tract, as other cytostatic agents do. Monoclonal antibody works even when all other treating techniques fail.

As for tests of said drugs in leading Russian medical institutions, new pharmaceuticals appeared to cause stable disease remission for long periods of time (up to 3.5 years) in 70-80% of leukemia cases. Drugs of previous generations, which are used for almost 50 years, resulted in remission of only 5-10% of patients. However, breakthrough therapy is not available for majority of Russians, suffering from chronic lymphatic leukemia, due to insufficient amount of drug purchase, as well as high prices (2000 Euro for one week of treatment is not an affordable price for most Russians).

Leading Russian hematologists recommend following solutions: development and approval of state standards and federal protocols for chronic lymphatic leukemia management, as well as its diagnostics. This means introduction of not only new generation of pharmaceuticals, but also expensive cytogenetic studies of a patient, allowing more accurate diagnostics of this disease.

Source: Science & Life

Kizilova Anna

Tags: Russian medicine     

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