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Italian company discovers drug to fight chemo side effects

New Menarini Group drug helps blood cancer patients

11 February, 19:20
Italian company discovers drug to fight chemo side effects (ANSA) - Florence, February 11 - An Italian pharmaceutical company said Tuesday it has manufactured a cheap, effective drug that drastically reduces sometimes fatal chemotherapy side effects in blood-cancer patients.

Florence-based Menarini Group, which is about to register the drug in the European Union, said preliminary data after a two-year, 50-million-euro study of 350 adult patients in 79 hospitals in 12 countries showed the drug is effective in fighting tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), or blood poisoning, and acute renal failure triggered by chemotherapy in leukemia and lymphoma sufferers.

This is good news for the 25,000 Italians who develop leukemia or lymphoma, which are two kinds of blood cancer, every year.

While leukemia and lymphoma patients now have a 70% survival rate thanks to chemotherapy, the therapy itself triggers TLS in between 3% and 20% of them. Patients under 18 tend to develop TLS at a much higher rate, as much as 30%. It is fatal in 5% of cases.

Menarini's drug is 30% more effective in fighting TLS than the standard therapy, which is now 30 years old. Its relatively low price tag makes it a viable drug for the national health service, Menarini President Lucia Aleotti told reporters.

The next research step is to find out whether the new drug is safe and effective for children as well as adults, and whether it can be used to help people with other kinds of cancer, Aleotti said.

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