Lifesaving Cancer Drug called Azacitidine for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) Patients

For patients suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), the therapeutic treatments readily available only assist with improving the quality of life by subduing pain. It doesn’t increase the longevity of life.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia is a type of cancer affecting the bone marrow by making abnormal myeloblasts, red blood cells, or platelets. This form of cancer is more common in adults, median age roughly 70 years, and is also known by the names: myelogenous leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, acute granulocytic leukemia, and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia.

In addition, this form of cancer causes the stem cells to become immature white blood cells which build up overtime. When this occurs, it makes it easier to suffer from infections, anemia and losing too much blood when a patient gets a cut. These effects can spread to other parts of the body and start affecting the central nervous system which is composed of the brain and spinal cord.

To diagnose AML, a patient may undergo a series of tests which may include but not limited to the following: Physical Exam & Medical History, Complete Blood Count, Bone Marrow Aspiration and Biopsy, Immunophenotyping, Reverse-Transcription-Polymerase Chain Test (RT-PCR) and more, see below.

Acute Myeloid Leukemia Diagnostic Blood Smear Sample Table [Source]

Fortunately, there has been some promising developments on drugs to treat AML, specifically a generic drug called Azacitidine. Over the last 7 years the studies on Azaciditine have shown promising results in an international phase 3 clinic trial conducted by Weill Cornell Medicine and New York-Presbyterian clinical trial sites. This drug is used to treat Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS) in addition to AML. The generic name Azacitidine is comparable to the drugs Vidaza or Onureg and its classified as an antimetabolity/ demethylating agent. AML patients have gone into remission after taking Azacitidine (in oral pill form) and improved the overall survival rate for patients. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they gave approval during September 2020 for the oral application of Azacitidine as a chemotropic maintenance therapy for AML.

Cancer Patients Received Emotional Support and Guidance [Source]

Currently, the conventional regimen for AML is chemotherapy divided into two phases: Induction and Consolidation. This may involve targeted drug therapy followed by stem cell transplants. The current treatment regimen is ineffective and often accounts for 27.4% five-year overall-survival rate . However, one study reports the use of Azacitidine has one year survival rate of 46.5% versus 34.2% for the conventional regimen . Since the FDA approved the use of Azacitidine as AML treatment, this has given patients suffering from AML hope and positive outlooks for the future.

-By: Haley Matthews (Intern at Science WeeklyFix)

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