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Alert Number 59

Genes Sleeping on the Job

Date: November 27, 2004

An interesting new clinical trial has opened up for CLL patients, one that may have potential for low toxicity as well as good efficacy. As a refreshing change from the usual heavy doses of chemotherapy, this trial is based on using very low doses of drugs, often as little as ten times lower than the amounts used under standard regimens. The rationale for this approach is equally interesting. The DNA in a cell's nucleus is a vast library of information which normally defines and regulates how the cell functions. In cancer cells, however, the information retrieval mechanism is often at fault. The idea here is to use just enough drugs to correct this fault, and thereby allow the cancer cell to kill itself.

The new trial at Ohio State is a Phase-I trial. But similar "epigenetic therapy" clinical trials have shown promise in other blood cancers. I am intrigued by the science, and the low-dose and low toxicity approach has a lot of appeal. There may also be an added benefit that this approach may reverse drug resistance in refractory patients. If you are trying to make therapy choices now, or likely to do so in the near future, this clinical trial may be worth considering. Read all about it in Epigenetics.

Be well,


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