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Novel drug fights leukemia

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9:47am, January 8, 2004

From San Diego, at a meeting of the American Society of Hematology

An experimental drug helps a small but significant fraction of people with acute myeloid leukemia and causes minimal side effects, research suggests.

The modest success of the drug tipifarnib is encouraging because the blood cancer is difficult to treat, especially in older patients, says Judith Karp of the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions in Baltimore. Side effects, including weakened immunity, can kill more than 30 percent of elderly patients who receive standard chemotherapy.

Karp, Jeffrey Lancet of the University of Rochester in New York, and their colleagues gave tipifarnib to 103 people with acute myeloid leukemia and an average age of 70. The drug acts against a leukemia-associated enzyme.

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