Some leukemia patients with common complications of their disease may have a new way to overcome them. New research finds that chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) patients with anemia or thrombocytopenia can be treated effectively with the drug, cyclosporin A. Anemia is a decrease in red cells in the blood and thrombocytopenia is when the number of platelets in reduced. The latter is the most common cause of bleeding disorders.
At the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, researchers studied 31 CLL patients who had anemia or thrombocytopenia. All patients in the study developed this complication due to an immune response to their own tissue. The patients were treated with 300 mg/day of cyclosporin A. While on the drug, more than 60 percent of the patients with thrombocytopenia had an increase in the number of platelets. Also, more than 60 percent of the patients with anemia had an increase in red blood cells in their blood. Most of the patients responded to the drug within three weeks of treatment.
Researchers conclude cyclosporin A is an effective alternative treatment for CLL patients who suffer from these blood complications. They also report the response to this drug translates into an improved tolerance of further chemotherapy treatments.