Cancer News Network

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Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gleevec continues to give a second-life to blood cancer patients!


The Washington Post: Doug Jenson, a 73-year-old retiree in Canby, Ore., knows what the "wonder drug" Gleevec has given him.

"I've had the pleasure of welcoming a new daughter-in-law, two new granddaughters, seeing my other grandkids grow up. My wife and I just had our 50th anniversary this summer," the former engineer said. "But a few years ago, I didn't think I'd live to see 65."

That's because in 1998, Jenson's doctors called to tell him he had chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) -- at the time, a death sentence.

"Back then, what would happen is that people would take some really tough drugs, interferon or hydroxyurea, and very few -- maybe 2 or 3 percent -- would ever achieve any kind of remission," explained Robin Kornhaber, senior vice president of patient services at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

In fact, Jenson's side effects from interferon were so onerous that he was forced to quit the medication early.

Luckily, his physician mentioned that Dr. Brian Druker, a researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University in nearby Portland, was working on a highly targeted molecular therapy called STI571. The molecule was specifically designed to block the genetic aberration that gives rise to CML, which affects about 6,000 Americans each year.

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