Leukemia patients treated with arsenic, vitamin A

By | February 17, 2009

Doctors appear to have safely and successfully treated patients with cancer of the blood and bone marrow with a combination of arsenic and vitamin A, according to long-term study in China.

In an article published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the doctors said they prescribed the regimen to 85 patients and monitored them for an average of 70 months.

Of these, 80 patients went into complete remission and the researchers did not find any associated long-term problems in their heart or lungs and there was no development of secondary cancers.

“Two years after their treatment, the patients had arsenic blood and urine levels well below safety limits, and only slightly higher than controls,” they wrote.

“The treatment was effective … and worked better than either drug given alone.”

The authors recommended that the treatment be given to patients with blood and bone marrow cancer, or acute promyelocytic Leukemia.

While vitamin A is regarded by some experts as a viable treatment, this is the first time that its use has been monitored for such an extended period of time.

Since the 18th century, arsenic compounds have been used as medicines to treat certain ailments. The US Food and Drug Administration approved it for the treatment of people with blood and bone marrow cancer in 2000.

via NewsDaily: Leukemia patients treated with arsenic, vitamin A.

What? I just fell out of my chair. A cancer cure article without the phrase, “still years away”?? Oh, I see the key phrase now:  “since the 18th century”. This article shows how long it takes to get a cancer treatment approved I guess.

2 thoughts on “Leukemia patients treated with arsenic, vitamin A

  1. Xeno Post author

    You may be right. Hopefully they have worked out the safe dose….

    A drug called arsenic trioxide is thought to help patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) achieve remission, but three out of 10 patients taking the drug died suddenly during the first cycle of treatment during a clinical trial, according to a report in the July 15th issue of Blood (Vol. 98, No. 2: 266-271).

    Peter Westervelt, MD, PhD, who recently became assistant professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester, and his colleagues from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, report that autopsies on two of the patients did not identify a cause of death, though bleeding into the lungs was reported in one, and they suspect that cardiac arrhythmia (irregularity of heartbeat) may have played a role in their deaths. The third patient’s heart stopped beating suddenly.

    The study was a phase I/II study in which Westervelt wanted to determine the greatest dose that people could take, the smallest dose that would achieve results, and any side effects associated with arsenic trioxide. – cancer.org

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