The drug imatinib (Gleevec) has shown promising activity in AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), according to a small study.
The study found that because the drug inhibits pathways that spur cancer growth, the tumors regressed in five patients within four weeks. The disease stabilized in the other five patients, and they did not develop any new tumors.
"Imatinib is a targeted therapy originally shown to be effective in treating chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors. This study and others are showing that the drug is also active in other cancers that express some of the same proteins," says study author, Dr. Henry B. Koon, an instructor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center/Harvard Medical School in Boston.
"Studies like this one represent an exciting time in oncology, when our understanding of the development of diseases like KS coincide with the availability of effective treatments. Further research on imatinib in [Kaposi's sarcoma] patients will be needed to determine appropriate dosing schedules," Koon says.
Kaposi's sarcoma is characterized by soft purplish tumors on the skin, mucous membranes and internal organs.
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