Scientists believe a new drug developed by British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) could have the potential to effectively treat mixed-lineage leukemia (MLL).
MLL is the most common strain of leukemia to affect babies and children and it is estimated 80 percent of under two-year-olds who receive a diagnosis for leukemia are affected with the strain.
The researchers from GSK worked in conjunction with the biggest cancer charity in the world - Cancer Research UK – and found the experimental I-BET151 drug prevents leukemia genes from being activated.
It is thought babies and children develop MLL when a mixed-lineage gene fuses to another gene, the result of which is the production of a ‘fusion protein’ which turns on cancer genes.
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The results of the research into GSK’s new drug have been published in the journal Nature and it is now hoped the next step in the research process will be patient trials.
Lesley Walker, the Director of Information at Cancer Research UK commented: “We urgently need better ways to treat children with more aggressive forms of leukemia, such as MLL.
“Although this research is only in the lab at the moment, we hope it will move quickly toward clinical trials in patients.”
If the drug performs well in future tests, it could bring new hope to those living with leukemia as although there are currently treatments available for the disease, most patients do not respond well to them and the cancer often returns.
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