Celgene's Revlimid Effective vs. Blood Cancer

The drug can eliminate a genetic abnormality causing the most common blood cancer.
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ORLANDO, Fla. --

Celgene's

(CELG) - Get Report

experimental drug Revlimid can eliminate a genetic abnormality causing the most common blood cancer, researchers announced at this year's annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Revlimid helped patients with myelodysplastic syndromes reduce the need for transfusions and lower or even eliminate the genetic abnormality related to the disease, according to results presented by medical researchers at one of the most important medical meetings of the year.

In the study, 146 patients with MDS who relied on blood transfusions took 10 milligrams of Revlimid daily. After 24 weeks, 64% of patients did not need a transfusion. Of those patients, 76% saw a reduction in the number of bone marrow cells with a specific abnormality caused by the disease, and 55% had no evidence of the abnormality.

Myelodysplastic syndromes are blood disorders that cause low blood cell count due to improper blood cell development. The syndromes can lead to fatal bone marrow failure and acute leukemia.

Revlimid modifies or regulates immune system function and appears to kill certain cancer cells, stop inflammation and improve the function of the immune cells.

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This product is a breakthrough for patients with MDS," says Dr. Alan List, a professor at the Lee Moffitt Cancer Center and lead author of the study. "This is the first effective therapy for this specific subtype of the disease."

Celgene previously reported a positive phase III assessment in the treatment of multiple myeloma, based on a review by the monitoring committee on patients receiving Revlimid plus the steroid dexamethasone compared with patients receiving dexamethasone alone.

In March, the Summit, N.J., company allowed all patients in both studies access to Revlimid. The drug has received fast-track status from the Food and Drug Administration, and some analysts expect it to be on the market in early 2006.