At the University of Leicester, a team of scientists has demonstrated a novel treatment for Hairy Cell Leukaemia (HCL), a rare type of blood cancer, using a drug administered to combat skin cancer.
The research, which is published (Thursday 16 January) in the New England Journal of Medicine
, indicates Vemurafenib, a BRAF inhibitor that has been approved as a treatment for advanced melanomas, is also successful in treating leukaemia. The study shows the treatment, which can be taken orally, cleared the malignant cells from the patient's blood and led to a complete clinical recovery in a number of days.
The study was led by the University of Leicester and involved treatment of a patient at the Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Dr Salvador Macip, from the University of Leicester's Department of Biochemistry, explained: "A genetic study of the patient's blood cells allowed us to identify a mutation in the BRAF gene that is commonly found in skin cancers. This knowledge enabled us to combat the cancer cells with Vemurafenib, which has had proven success as a BRAF inhibitor in melanomas, and showed similar success for this patient who had exhausted all other treatment options, which is fantastic.