A New Way to Fight Leukemia

Christopher Cogle, M.D.

Faculty Spotlight: Christopher Cogle, M.D.

A new therapy mounts a double-barreled attack on leukemia, targeting not just the cancer cells but also the environment in which those cells live and grow, say University of Florida researchers.

Like striking an enemy camp directly as well as cutting off its source of food and other resources, the agent, called Oxi4503, poisons leukemia cells and destroys the blood vessels that supply them with oxygen and nutrients.

Use of the treatment in mouse models of acute myelogenous leukemia, or AML, is described in the journal Blood. The researchers plan human tests of the drug at Shands at UF later this year.

“We’ve identified a new tool to dissect out the specifics of the relationship between leukemia cells and the blood vessels that supply them,” said Christopher Cogle, M.D., the UF College of Medicine oncologist who is senior author of the paper and a member of the UF Shands Cancer Center. “What we are offering is a brand new treatment by a very different mechanism to people who desperately need something new.”

A Center of ExcellenceShands at UF has been recognized as a center of excellence for cancers known as myelodysplastic syndromes that strike bone marrow. The designation by the Myelodysplastic Syndrome Foundation recognizes outstanding research efforts and superior clinical care for patients.

Each year, more than 120,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with a blood cancer, and about 80 percent of them die of the disease because there are no effective treatments, according to the National Cancer Institute. Some AMLs return after initially successful chemotherapy, while others do not respond at all. In addition, chemotherapy is too toxic for some elderly people, so they need an alternative.

Many treatments and studies focus on killing cancer cells, but very few target the microenvironment in which those cells grow. That means paying attention to blood vessels, bone marrow, growth factors and cell-to-cell interaction and binding.

Existing therapies that destroy blood vessels do so by targeting a growth factor called VEGF-A, but they are not effective long term at eliminating leukemia. — Czerne M. Reid

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Fall 2010

From the Director’s Desk

We want to cure cancer. We want to catch it early if we can. But even if we can’t, we want to cure it anyway. Here at the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center, we are committed to finding innovative ways to treat this disease, and ultimately, cure it.

Changing the Way Cancer is Treated

The University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville has delivered more than 73,000 treatments to more than 2,200 patients, placing it among the top 10 proton therapy centers in the world.

A Healing Space

Perched on a bed in a room overlooking Paynes Prairie, Teresa Hughes adjusts the fuzzy brown cap she’s wearing and recalls the day in June when she couldn’t ignore how sick she felt anymore.

Babies?

Preserving fertility is a complicated issue for young cancer patients. It’s a question a 28-year-old woman might ask her doctor after learning she has been diagnosed with cancer. But a 13-year-old girl?

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