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Leukemia Cancer Drugs May Cause Heart Failure - Gleevec and Other Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Toxic and May Cause Problems

July 23rd 2006

Leukemia Cancer Drugs May Cause Heart Failure - Gleevec and Other Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors Toxic and May Cause Problems

Gleevec

New drugs used to treat leukemia, including Gleevec, may cause serious heart damage, according to U.S. researchers.  The researchers say that people taking the medication should continue to take it, but should also be closely monitored for heart damage.

The researchers from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, University of Texas released the caution of Sunday, after they found evidence that treatment caused heart failure in 10 patients.  They say that people taking other drugs in the same class, called tyrosine kinase inhibitors, may also be at risk for heart damage.

The drugs have been very successful in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia or CML, in most patients. They have found that 80 to 90 percent of the patients taking the drug were cancer free for at least five years.  The drugs have also been successful in treating a rare form of stomach cancer called gastrointestinal stromal tumors or GIST.

 

Thomas Force, who led the investigation, said “"Gleevec is a wonderful drug and patients with these diseases need to be on it. We're trying to call attention to the fact that Gleevec and other similar drugs coming along could have significant side effects on the heart and clinicians need to be aware of this. It's a potential problem because the number of targeted agents is growing rapidly."

The researchers tested the drug in lab dishes and found that it appears to be toxic to heart cells.  Also, mice treated with Gleevec developed left ventricular dysfunction.  This is a key symptom for heart failure.  Novartis, the maker of Gleevec said the cases of heart failure were rare.

 

Force said “While the cancer is treated effectively, there will be some percentage of patients who could experience significant left ventricular dysfunction and even heart failure from this.”  Heart failure will kill half of the patients within 5 years.

Novartis said that patients can be successfully treated with two drugs that can help treat the heart failure.  These drugs, called ACE inhibitors and carvedilol, can be used as a treatment, but the prognosis for heart failure remains poor.   

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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                   Last Updated Saturday, July 10, 2010 09:46 PM