Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Arsenic Shown To Induce Cancer Remission

Date:
November 5, 1998
Source:
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center
Summary:
Arsenic, a notorious poison, may be on the verge of overcoming its bad reputation. Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have now become the first investigators in the Western world to show that arsenic effectively induces remission in patients who have relapsed with APL, a potentially fatal type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow.

New York, November 5, 1998 -- Arsenic, a notorious poison, may be on the verge of overcoming its bad reputation. Two years ago, Chinese researchers reported that low doses of arsenic trioxide induced remission in patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), prompting physicians in the West to undertake their own pilot study.

Related Articles


Researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center have now become the first investigators in the Western world to show that arsenic effectively induces remission in patients who have relapsed with APL, a potentially fatal type of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow. The findings are reported in the November 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

"We now know that arsenic can safely bring patients with APL into remission, which may ultimately give them a second chance at life," said Dr. Raymond P. Warrell, Jr., the senior author of the study and a leukemia specialist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

In the pilot study, 12 patients who had relapsed from conventional therapy were treated with low doses of arsenic trioxide. Eleven of the 12 patients achieved remission anywhere from 12 to 39 days after treatment started, experiencing only mild side effects.

The single patient who failed to reach remission died from a complication related to the disease five days after arsenic treatment began and could not be evaluated in the study.

Once remission was achieved, each patient received a brief treatment break, which was followed with repeated courses of arsenic trioxide therapy every three to six weeks thereafter. After two cycles of therapy, the investigators conducted additional tests to determine whether any molecular evidence of leukemia remained. Three patients tested positive for molecular evidence of the disease and later relapsed with APL, while eight patients tested negative for molecular evidence of APL and remained in remissions that lasted as long as 10 months. To date, several patients have received up to six courses of arsenic treatment without experiencing cumulative side effects.

"Based on these highly sensitive molecular results, treatment with arsenic trioxide appears to exceed the effectiveness of any single drug to treat APL," said Dr. Steven Soignet, the lead author of the study. "Still, this is not a cure. More studies will tell us how truly effective arsenic trioxide will be over the long term."

Arsenic trioxide works by killing the cancerous cells that cause APL, including those that have become resistant to the most successful form of treatment -- a drug called all-trans retinoic acid that was also pioneered by Dr. Warrell. Several years ago, he and others showed that all-trans retinoic acid could be used with chemotherapy to treat many patients with APL because it forced cancer cells to mature and die normally. But despite

this improvement in therapy, about 30 percent of patients who receive all-trans retinoic acid develop resistance to it and relapse with the disease. Arsenic trioxide appears to bypass this resistance by forcing APL cells to partly mature, and then causing them to self-destruct.

"This finding shows that arsenic trioxide does not discriminate between APL that is resistant or not resistant to retinoic acid, which may mean that we can use it at the outset of treatment for patients with APL," said Dr. Soignet.

Clinical trials using arsenic trioxide to treat patients with APL are on-going at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and at several centers throughout the country. Next, the investigators will look at arsenic trioxide’s effectiveness in treating other types of cancers.

The research has been supported in part by the National Cancer Institute, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Cancer Society and by grants from the Lymphoma Foundation and PolaRx Biopharmaceuticals, Inc.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center is the world's oldest and largest institution devoted to patient care, research, and education in cancer. Throughout its long, distinguished history, the Center has played a leadership role in defining the standards of care for patients with cancer. In 1998, Memorial Sloan-Kettering was named the nation's best cancer center for the sixth consecutive year by U.S. News & World Report.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Arsenic Shown To Induce Cancer Remission." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 November 1998. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981105065953.htm>.
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. (1998, November 5). Arsenic Shown To Induce Cancer Remission. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981105065953.htm
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Arsenic Shown To Induce Cancer Remission." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/11/981105065953.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

Doctor in NYC Quarantined With Ebola

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) An emergency room doctor who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus. He's quarantined in a hospital. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins