[Corrected 12/07/12, 10:18 pm. See below.] The life sciences industry has been talking up personalized medicine for more than a decade, but so far the idea that diseases will be treated with a unique drug regimen tailored to each patient has made little headway in actual clinical practice. A number of drug developers large and small may finally be making personalized medicine a reality, however, for at least one disease category—blood cancers.
Their progress will be on display at the high-profile American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting in Atlanta Dec. 8-11. Data will be presented at the meeting from lab studies and clinical trials for a number of promising drugs, both newly approved and in the pipeline, for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma.
Multiple myeloma patients already got another treatment option in July when Onyx Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: ONXX) of South San Francisco, CA, won FDA approval for carfilzomib (Kyprolis), a type of drug called a proteasome inhibitor that blocks cellular structures critical to cancer cell survival. Carfilzomib is meant for people who don’t respond to bortezomib (Velcade) from Millennium and lenalidomide (Revlimid) from Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG), drugs that themselves vastly improved the outlook for myeloma patients when they were introduced less than 10 years ago. But already the next generation of proteasome inhibitors, administered by pill instead of injection or IV, will be among the most closely watched drugs at ASH this year.
The rapid progress in blood cancer therapies started with Novartis’s breakthrough imatinib (Gleevec), approved in 2001 for chronic myeloid leukemia. Decades of work identifying the genes and cellular mechanisms linked to cancers that start in the blood, bone marrow, or lymphocytes led to a rapid succession of targeted therapies over the past decade, and these new drugs … Next Page »
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