UPMC joins clinical trial for leukemia treatment | TribLIVE.com

UPMC joins clinical trial for leukemia treatment

Emily Balser

UPMC Hillman Cancer Center is joining a collaborative clinical trial for acute myeloid leukemia to explore new ways of treating patients.

The Beat AML Master Clinical Trial, led by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, will use genetic testing to determine the best course of treatment for the cancer. It affects more than 20,000 people in the United States each year and is one of the most deadly forms of blood cancer.

UPMC said it is the only cancer center in Pennsylvania and one of 15 nationally to join the trial.

“AML is extremely aggressive, and clinical decisions on the appropriate therapies need to be made quickly,” said Dr. Stanley M. Marks, chairman of UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. “To provide individualized treatment for each patient based on their genetic makeup will help us select the approach that gives the patient the best chance for a cure.”

In the trial, newly diagnosed patients who are at least 60 years old are screened for genetic changes or mutations driving the disease using a genomic screening process.

Genomic screening uses a lab test to look at the patient’s genes, which are the DNA instructions inherited from a person’s mother and father.

A patient is then assigned to a therapy based on their genetic profile. If a patient does not have a genetic marker for a specific treatment, they will receive a broad treatment. Every patient who enters the trial receives an option for treatment.

The standard therapy has remained virtually unchanged for decades. Typically patients are treated using a combination of chemotherapy and, for some patients, a stem cell transplant. However, many patients over 60 years old can’t tolerate the harsh regimen.

Patients in the trial will participate in three phases including the seven-day genomic screening, the treatment and the follow-up period of 28 days or longer after treatment. The total duration may last from one to two years.

The Beat AML trial at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center will be led by Dr. Michael Boyiadzis, co-director of the acute leukemia program at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

For more information on the trial, call Kathy O’Connell at 412-623-3083 or [email protected].

Emily Balser is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Emily at 724-226-4680, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: News | Health Now
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