Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Choice of Cancer or Heart Failure

We now hear that cancer drugs may cause heart failure. Therapy for malignancies have become more precise with drugs tailor-made to attack proteins (enzymes) that initiate the sequence of events that results in malignancies.

Imatinib by Novartis, also known as Glivec, is one such example. It attacks the ABL protein, whose overactivity leads to the over production of white blood cells which results in chronic myeloid leukemia. Glivec turns it off. That seems to be a good idea. The problem is that, the ABL protein is also responsible for keeping myoardial cells healthy. Therefore, when Glivec is used, there is a possibility that heart muscle tissue could be affected.

Researchers from the Thomas Jefferson University published their findings in the online Nature Medicine journal, of 10 patients who were treated with Glivec resulting with severe heart failure. The choice between cancer and heart failure is a tough one but Glivec seems to have good anti-leukemic results so it looks like the usage of this drug will continue despite the potential side-effects of heart failure.

What interest me is that specific enzyme targetted therapy for diseases is now here. That allows for more predictability of effects as well as their side effects. I suppose we now have to be even more protein chain specific so that we can attack the rogue enzymes that cause diseases without affecting a similar protein that maintains health.

No comments: