Professor Gert Ossenkoppele from VU University Medical Center talks to ecancertv about the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) in elderly patients.
Professor Ossenkoppele notes that standard treatment for elderly patients has mostly stayed the same in the last 30 years. Thus there is an urgent medical need for improvements in this patient group. In contrast, improvements have been made in treatments for younger patients, to whom more intensive treatments can be given.
Many promising drugs interfering with the signal transduction pathways of AML cells are currently in phase I and II clinical trials, for example, trials involving gemtuzumab, a monoclonal antibody against anti-CD33. Data with tipifarnib, a farnesyltransferase inhibitor, are also outlined.
Professor Ossenkoppele notes that epigenetic modulation of AML cells provides another potential avenue of treatment, with decitabine showing a survival benefit in elderly patients, and the potential place of this drug in therapy is addressed. Furthermore, the promise of allogenic stem cell transfers in the elderly using a reduced intensity conditioning regimen is outlined. Molecular prognostic tools could also be used to help treatment decision-making in older patients.
This programme has been supported by an unrestricted educational grant from Janssen Pharmaceutica (A Johnson & Johnson Company).