New pill could help those with aggressive forms of leukemia - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New pill could help those with aggressive forms of leukemia

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A new pill is transforming the lives of some patients with aggressive forms of leukemia, many of whom are still alive years after they were told they had months to live, according to NBC News.

In early-stage clinical trials the drug Ibrutinib prevented a relapse of CLL, a common form of the blood cancer, in 75% of patients over a two-year period.

CLL traditionally affects older adults, and doesn't often require treatment. For those who do end up needing therapy, the options are either chemotherapy or antibody treatment.

Ibrutinib targets a protein that cancer cells need to survive. It leaves other healthy cells alone, so patients report significantly fewer side effects.

It was also shown to be effective against MLL, less common, but extremely aggressive form of leukemia.

Cancer doctors say they are encouraged by the results, and believe this drug will change the way they treat these forms of the disease.

The drug has not yet been approved by the FDA.

All of the patients in the studies had tried several other treatments and had not responded.

Experts say more studies are needed to see how the drug should be used, and if there are any long term side effects.

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