Leukemia Drug Could Also Help Skin, Breast, and Other Cancers

Kimberly M. Hicks, Pharm.D., M.H.A., Clinical Pharmacy Specialist at BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy

A well-known medication used for a specific type of leukemia now shows promise against several other cancers. This chemotherapy tablet, Sprycel® (dasatinib) from Bristol-Myers Squibb, gained FDA approval for treating chronic myelogenous leukemia in 2010, although it had been approved since 2006 in a more limited way.

Researchers at Loyola University’s Stritch School of Medicine in Chicago note in a press release explaining their recent research that, for leukemia, Sprycel inhibits enzymes called tyrosine kinases. Left unchecked, tyrosine kinases activate proteins needed for cancer cell growth. Sprycel fights leukemia by blocking these enzymes. These researchers discovered, however, that Sprycel can work in additional cancer-fighting ways. Sprycel triggers a clumping of cancer cells, which prevents these cells from travelling to additional parts of the body (a process called metastasis).

It is this cell-clumping ability of Sprycel that has researchers excited for the potential of this oral chemotherapy medication to limit cancer growth and spread for breast and skin cancers. In fact, clinical trials have already launched to examine the potential benefit of Sprycel against melanoma, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, endometrial cancer, gastrointestinal stromal cancer, ovarian cancer, multiple myeloma, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As results from these studies arrive, the way in which these cancers will be treated in the future could change.

Stephen C. Vogt, Pharm.D.
President and CEO
BioPlus Specialty Pharmacy



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Fenton SE, Hutchens KA, Denning MF. Targeting Fyn in Ras-transformed cells induces F-actin to promote adherens junction-mediated cell–cell adhesion. Molecular Carcinogenesis June 29, 2014 online. DOI: 10.1002/mc.22190

Press release. Stritch researchers find promise in leukemia drug for skin, breast and other cancers. Loyola University Chicago. August 20, 2014.

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