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Arthritis drug in blood cancer hope

Monday July 6th, 2015

A common arthritis drug may help treat patients with a range of blood cancers, British researchers revealed last night.

So far the theory has been tested successfully in laboratory studies at Sheffield University.

The researchers have been testing the benefits of the drug methotrexate for myeloproliferative neoplasms, a range of diseases which include chronic myelogenous leukaemia.

They say the drug works like other treatments that are specifically being developed to treat these diseases.

The drug is used at low doses to treat inflammatory diseases - and a year's treatment costs about £30.

It is also used at high doses to treat some kinds of cancer, when it can cause substantial side-effects.

About 3,300 people a year in the UK are diagnosed with myeloproliferative neoplasms, which cause excess production of blood cells.

The Sheffield study, reported in PloS One, showed the drug can suppress the signals that trigger the disease in human cells - even when the cells carried gene mutations responsible for the neoplasms.

Researcher Dr Martin Zeidler said: “We have the potential to revolutionise the treatment of this group of chronic diseases – a breakthrough that may ultimately represent a new treatment option able to bring relief to both patients and health funders."

The work was welcomed by Cancer Research UK.

Nell Barrie, from the charity, said: “Finding new uses for existing drugs is a great way to speed up improvements in treatment, as these drugs will have previously been through safety tests.

"Methotrexate is already used as a chemotherapy drug for several types of cancer, and this early research shows that at much lower doses it could have the potential to help treat certain blood disorders.”

Methotrexate is a JAK/STAT pathway inhibitor. PloS One 6 July 2015

Tags: Cancer | Pharmaceuticals | Respiratory | UK News

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