From OncoLog, May 2012, Vol. 57, No. 5
Drug Provides Symptom Reduction and Survival Advantages for Myelofibrosis Patients
Patients with myelofibrosis have shortened survival due to progressive disease or transformation to acute leukemia. Srdan Verstovsek, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Leukemia at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, said, “Most of these patients die from body wasting, organ failure, and other disease complications within 5–7 years.”
About half of myelofibrosis patients have a mutated JAK2 gene. This gene is responsible for normal blood cell production, and the mutation causes aberrant blood cell production by the bone marrow. In patients without a mutation in JAK2, its abnormal function has other causes. Ruxolitinib targets the JAK2 enzyme regardless of whether the gene is mutated and so can treat patients with or without JAK2 mutations. All patients with myelofibrosis have the same chance to benefit from ruxolitinib.
In a phase III clinical trial at MD Anderson and other institutions,
myelofibrosis patients treated with ruxolitinib not only had reduced
symptoms but also had a higher survival rate than did those receiving a
placebo. At a median follow-up of 51 weeks, the mortality rate was 8.4%
among patients receiving ruxolitinib compared with 15.6% among patients
receiving a placebo.
The report of the phase III trial was published in the March 1 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
For more information, talk to your physician, visit www.mdanderson.org, or call askMDAnderson at 877-632-6789.