Drug takes a shot at leukemia cells | Science News



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Drug takes a shot at leukemia cells

9:02pm, December 18, 2006

From Orlando, Fla., at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

A drug that targets solid tumors such as those of lung cancer might also fight blood cancers, a lab study shows.

Erlotinib (Tarceva) attacks cells by blocking a receptor protein that's abundant on the surface of some cancer cells (SN: 8/27/05, p. 139: Available to subscribers at Targeted Attack). Bone marrow cells—the blood-forming cells that go awry in patients with leukemia and other blood cancers—typically don't display this receptor.

Nevertheless, physician Simone Boehrer of the Gustave-Roussy Institute in Villejuif, France, and her colleagues tested erlotinib in a lab dish on bone marrow cells taken from 10 patients with either acute myeloid leukemia or a precancerous blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome.

While cells from some patients were resistant to erlotinib, the drug killed up to 60 percent of cancerous cells extracted fr

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