Diet & Nutrition

New leukaemia treatment that “melts” cancer cells set to hit Australia

According to clinical trials, the new drug, which was tested and developed in Melbourne, left one in five cancer patients free of the illness.

By Ellie McDonald
Little girl with cancer stares out window of hospital.

In breakthrough cancer research out of Victoria, the Herald Sun are reporting that leukaemia-fighting drug Venetoclax has been fast-tracked for use in Australia after it successfully controlled chronic lymphocytic leukaemia in 80 per cent of the trial’s participants.

Celebrating its success, researchers are suggesting that this drug is a “smart, more targeted approach” to obliterating cancer cells, all while minimising the likelihood of side effects.

Approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration, it is being reported that Venetoclax will be administered to those who have the type of chronic lymphocytic leukaemia that is the most difficult to treat.

Dr Mary Ann Anderson, one of the scientists who worked on the clinical trial of the drug at Royal Melbourne Hospital, claims that the lymph nodes of those patients she cared for who took the drug shrunk radically.

“[My patients] felt better in a matter of weeks, and many managed not to need blood transfusions,” Dr Anderson says.

This rings true for 65-year-old John Higham, who, after two courses of chemotherapy that didn’t work, trialled Venetoclax for two years after that.

“When they started me on it, after I took one 100mg tablet my blood levels immediately returned to normal,” he says, as reported by the Herald Sun.

“I appear to have been cured just after taking one tablet.”

“Without this, I’d most certainly be dead.”

While the results have been so far, so good, scientists are still yet to determine whether or not the drug provides a long-term cure – something that, along with if this drug can help treat other cancers, is currently being trialled.

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