Oct. 9 (UPI) -- A new drug used for advanced breast cancer can also work effectively to treat acute myeloid leukemia, according to a study with mice and cells in a lab.
Researchers at Newcastle University in London identified palbociclib for targeting the form of leukemia, but without the significant side effects, including irreversible heart damage and hair loss, unlike current chemotherapy. The findings were published Tuesday in the journal Cancer Cell.
Palbociclib is sold under the brand name Ibrance by Pfizer.
"Our discovery that this treatment can be effective in AML is an important step towards a more effective and less toxic treatment for patients with this form of leukaemia," study leader Dr. Olaf Heidenreich, of the Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Center at Newcastle University, said in a press release. "This discovery will help advance treatment without severely impairing patients' quality of life."
Acute myeloid leukemia is characterized by the rapid growth of abnormal cells that build up in the bone marrow and blood, and interfere with normal blood cells. The disease is uncommon before the age of 45, according to the American Cancer Society.
Based on data collected between 2008 and 2014, the five-year survival rate for the disease is 27.4 percent, and the National Cancer Institute estimates about 10,670 deaths will result from it this year.
The treatment stops tumors from growing by preventing key molecules of cell cycle progression.
Scientists at Newcastle and the University of Birmingham performed genomic analysis on AML cells and identified two key molecules involved in the progression of leukemia: CDK6 and CCND2.
"We are now carrying out research to identify combinations of medicines containing palbociclib that will effectively eradicate AML without causing substantial therapy-associated 'collateral damage,' " Olaf said.