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New Anticancer Drug Being Tested Against Mantle-Cell Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

New Anticancer Drug Being Tested Against Mantle-Cell Lymphoma and Multiple Myeloma

Physicians at the University of Chicago Medical Center are looking for patients with either mantle-cell lymphoma or multiple myeloma to take part in a National Cancer Institute-sponsored phase II clinical trial of the experimental drug, flavopiridol, which is derived from a plant from India. Flavopiridol blocks one of the enzymes that certain rapidly dividing cancer cells need to multiply. This enzyme has recently been shown to play a crucial role in the progression of mantle-cell lymphoma.

“We are particularly excited about this drug, especially for treatment of mantle-cell lymphoma, because it interferes so precisely with the cellular mechanisms that we now know are abnormal in this type of lymphoma,” said David Liebowitz, MD, PhD, assistant professor in hematology/oncology at the University of Chicago Medical Center and director of the study. “This drug has the potential, at least in theory, to make a big difference in how we treat this disease.”

New Possibilities

Studies in the laboratory suggest that flavopiridol may prove effective against several types of cancer. The first phase II clinical studies will involve recurrent lymphomas and multiple myeloma, but upcoming studies at the University of Chicago and elsewhere will test this agent as a treatment for kidney, breast, stomach, cervical, and colorectal cancers.

Because the drug specifically inhibits cell division rather than killing cells directly, it may have fewer side effects than many other anticancer medications. Side effects observed in small phase I studies, however, have included low blood pressure, fluid retention, nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and inflammation. Blood counts were minimally affected by flavopiridol.

Participants in the current trial must have intermediate or high-grade lymphoma or multiple myeloma. They should not have received more than one type of chemotherapy before entering this trial. The drug will be given on an outpatient basis intravenously over a 3-day period every 2 weeks. Patients will receive four or more treatments.

For more information about participation in these studies call Rose Arrieta, Phase-II program administrator, at (773) 702-6793. 

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