Newer treatments for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)
The following treatments aren’t licensed for use in the UK for AML, and so may not be available unless you’re taking part in a research trial. If you take part in a trial, you may be offered one or more of these drugs as part of your treatment.
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Clofarabine is very similar to another drug commonly used to treat people with AML called fludarabine. It has fewer side effects than fludarabine, so it’s thought it may be more suitable for older people who are less able to have intensive chemotherapy.
Clofarabine is given as a drip (infusion) into a vein and is only available for people with AML as part of research trials. Some people taking part in the AML-17 trial will be given clofarabine.
Gemtuzumab, also known as Mylotarg®, is given as a drip into a vein.
It’s made up of a combination of a monoclonal antibody and a chemotherapy drug. The monoclonal antibody attaches itself to a protein (CD33) found on the surface of leukaemia cells. In this way, it carries the chemotherapy directly to the leukaemia cells. Because CD33 is found mainly on leukaemia cells, it’s hoped this drug will target the chemotherapy against leukaemia cells while causing less damage to healthy cells.
Some people taking part in the AML-17 trial will be given gemtuzumab as part of their treatment.
Some people with AML have a change (mutation) in the leukaemia cells called FLT3. This mutation can increase the risk of the leukaemia coming back in the future. AC220 is an experimental new treatment designed to act against cells with this mutation. It’s given by mouth and is being given as part of the LI-1 clinical trial.
Arsenic trioxide (ATO, Trisenox®)
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Arsenic trioxide is licensed to treat people who have acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) that has come back after treatment, or has not gone into remission with treatment. This drug is made from the poison arsenic, but is given at low, safe doses.
Although it’s licensed to treat APL, it’s not yet known how well it might work for other types of AML. Some people taking part in the AML-17 trial will be given arsenic trioxide along with their chemotherapy treatment. It’s given as a drip into a vein and may be given as an outpatient.