Novel Erythropoiesis Stimulating Protein Reduces Need for Transfusions in Cancer Patients

Novel Erythropoiesis Stimulating Protein Reduces Need for Transfusions in Cancer Patients

SAN FRANCISCO—Novel erythropoiesis stimulating protein (NESP,
darbepoetin-alfa, Aranesp) is an investigational recombinant erythropoietic
protein that binds to the erythropoietin receptor and stimulates erythropoiesis
by the same mechanism as recombinant human erythropoietin (epoetin alfa,
Procrit, Epogen).

NESP has a serum half-life of more than 40 hours in cancer patients
receiving chemotherapy, approximately three times longer than epoetin. Thus,
NESP can be given once a week or once every 2 weeks, compared with three times
a week for epoetin alfa.

Poster presentations at the 37th Annual Meeting of the American Society of
Clinical Oncology (ASCO) showed that NESP can correct disease-related and
treatment-induced anemias in cancer patients, and can reduce the need for
transfusions in lung cancer patients being treated with platinum-based

Preliminary studies also showed that NESP could increase hemoglobin levels
in patients with lymphoproliferative malignancies, with solid tumors being
treated with chemotherapy, and with non-myeloid malignancies being treated with

Platinum Therapy in Lung Cancer

Robert Pirker, MD, reported a phase III, double-blind, placebo-controlled,
randomized study of NESP in patients undergoing platinum treatment for lung
cancer (abstract 1572). Dr. Pirker, of the University of Vienna Medical School,
Vienna, Austria, reported the results on behalf of the NESP 980297 Study Group.

In this study, 320 anemic patients (hemoglobin 11 g/dL or less) were
randomized to receive NESP 2.25 µg/kg or placebo. Study drug was administered
subcutaneously once weekly for a maximum of 12 weeks and was withheld if
hemoglobin concentrations were 14 g/dL (for women) or 15 g/dL (for men). The study dose was doubled if, at week
6, hemoglobin had not increased by at least 1 g/dL.


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