[ASC-media] MEDIA RELEASE - New research provides hope for childhood cancer sufferers

Pearly Harumal PHarumal at ccia.unsw.edu.au
Mon Jul 16 02:46:52 CEST 2007

MEDIA RELEASE - Monday 16 July 2007

New research provides hope for childhood cancer sufferers

Scientists investigating drug therapies for children with Acute
Lymphoblastic Leukaemia (ALL) have presented new data demonstrating for
the very first time that a small molecule called ABT-737 can increase
the effectiveness of standard therapies.

Dr Richard Lock, Head of the Leukaemia Biology Program at the Children's
Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research, Sydney, along with
collaborators from the Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and University of
Southern California, USA, recently published their findings in the
prestigious scientific journal Blood.

ALL is the most common form of childhood cancer.  Over the years,
improvements in primary therapy have increased the cure rate to
approximately 80 percent.  However, for the 20 percent of patients who
relapse, the majority will die.   

"When used in combination with common drugs administered in ALL therapy,
ABT-737 has the ability to enhance the combined toxicity of these drugs
against the leukaemia cells with minimal effects on the normal cells of
the body," said Dr Lock.

Resistance to common therapeutic drugs is associated with poor long-term
outcomes in leukaemia patients.  In the study, the effects of ABT-737 in
combination with three common chemotherapeutic agents: L-Asparaginase,
vincristine and dexamethasone, were tested on a number of ALL cell lines
under conditions which were considered clinically relevant for the

ABT-737, developed by Abbott Laboratories, acts by inhibiting the Bcl-2
family of proteins.  These proteins are expressed in ALL and inhibit the
mechanisms responsible for destroying leukaemia cells.  High levels of
expression of Bcl-2 is linked with chemoresistance in a variety of

"There is a critical need for new drugs with novel mechanisms of action
that might improve the outcome for relapsed ALL patients," said Dr Lock.


The manuscript is available online at
Children's Cancer Institute Australia for Medical Research is associated
with the University of NSW and Sydney Children's Hospital.

Media contact:
Pearly Harumal
Ph 02 9662 5663
Email  pharumal at ccia.org.au

Children's Cancer Institute Australia is the only independent medical
research institute in Australia solely devoted to research into the
causes, prevention and cure of childhood cancer. Our vision is to save
the lives of all children with cancer and eliminate their suffering.
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