Newswise — Orlando, FL — A new study by Yale Cancer Center (YCC) and Smilow Cancer Hospital researchers suggests that the drug venetoclax aids therapy for relapsed/refractory myelodysplastic syndromes, especially when paired with azacytidine. The early findings were presented today at the 61st American Society of Hematology (ASH) meeting in Orlando, Florida. The annual conference is attended by an international audience of more than 25,000 hematology professionals.

“Over-expression of the BCL-2 protein, which helps to regulate cell death, is implicated in various cancers,” said lead author of the study, Amer Zeidan, MBBS, MHS, associate professor of medicine (hematology) at YCC. “This ongoing phase 1b clinical trial is testing venetoclax, an oral BCL-2 inhibitor, in patients with relapsed/refractory myelodysplastic syndrome (R/R MDS).”

One cohort has received venetoclax (in one of two dosages) as monotherapy and a second cohort has been given azacitidine plus escalating doses of venetoclax. As of April 9 of this year, 22 patients were enrolled in the monotherapy cohort and 24 patients in the combination cohort. In early analysis, venetoclax monotherapy and the combination therapy were well tolerated, and most adverse events were manageable. Overall survival was estimated at 57% after six months among the monotherapy patients, and at 83% after nine months among those given the combination treatment. “Both early results compare favorably with historical data,” added Zeidan. “But we still have more to learn, as the study is still ongoing.”

About Yale Cancer Center and Smilow Cancer Hospital
Yale Cancer Center
(YCC) is one of only 51 National Cancer Institute (NCI-designated comprehensive cancer) centers in the nation and the only such center in Connecticut. Cancer treatment for patients is available at Smilow Cancer Hospital through 13 multidisciplinary teams and at 14 Smilow Cancer Hospital Care Centers in Connecticut. Smilow Cancer Hospital is accredited by the Commission on Cancer, a Quality program of the American College of Surgeons. Comprehensive cancer centers play a vital role in the advancement of the NCI’s goal of reducing morbidity and mortality from cancer through scientific research, cancer prevention, and innovative cancer treatment.


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Meeting Link: ASH Annual Meeting