Page last updated at 06:47 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Drug 'can kill leukaemia cells'

Leukaemia cells
Researchers say the drug can destroy leukaemia cells

Scientists claim a new drug has been developed which kills leukaemia cells.

Researchers say the drug, PBOX-15, can destroy cancerous cells in adult patients with a poor prognosis who have shown resistance to other treatments.

Professor Mark Lawler of Trinity College Dublin said it could be three to five years before the drug could be used as a potential therapy.

Belfast City Hospital also played a role in the development of the new leukaemia drug

"We are still at an early stage - now we have to move it on to see if there are any side effects," Professor Lawler said.

"But it's very exciting - we want to give hope to cancer patients."

The study was carried out by academics at Trinity College Dublin in partnership with the University of Sienna in Italy, St James's Hospital in Dublin, and Belfast City Hospital.

Professor Lawler said that in samples given by patients, the drug attacked and broke down the skeleton in leukaemia cells.

It was also successful when used in the treatment of Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (CLL), a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow which is the most common leukaemia among adults in the western world.

Researchers said PBOX- 15 was more effective than the current medication used to treat the disease and also killed CLL cells that were resistant to treatment.

Details of the study were published in the Cancer Research journal.

John McCormack, of the Irish Cancer Society, said: "The findings that are being published today emphasise the potential for basic science discoveries to translate to clinical benefit.

"These now need to be brought from the laboratory to the bedside so that they will ultimately benefit patients with this common form of leukaemia."

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