Public Release: 

Temple & Fox Chase Cancer Center testing drug for cancer & bone marrow disorders

Temple University Hospital & Fox Chase Cancer Center are the only 2 sites in Philadelphia that participated in an international phase I, randomized clinical trial which tested the drug guadecitabine in MDS and AML

Temple University Health System

(Philadelphia, PA) - Temple University Hospital and Fox Chase Cancer Center are the only two sites in Philadelphia that participated in an international phase I, randomized clinical trial which tested the drug guadecitabine (SGI-110) in Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). MDS are a group of bone marrow disorders in which the bone marrow doesn't produce enough healthy blood cells. AML is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow.

SGI-110 is a novel next generation small molecule drug which inhibits DNA methylation - one of several epigenetic mechanisms that cells use to control gene expression, the process by which genetic instructions are used to synthesize gene products. Those gene products are usually proteins and perform vital functions in the body. Aberrant DNA methylation, or abnormal methylation, has been associated with an increased rate of malignancy. SGI-110 reverses the abnormal DNA methylation.

Jean-Pierre Issa, MD, Director of the Fels Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Biology at Temple University School of Medicine and co-Leader of the Cancer Epigenetics Program at the Fox Chase Cancer Center is lead author of the study, which has been published August 19 in the journal, Lancet Oncology. He says this study was the first time the drug was given to humans. "The goal was to measure the safety in patients diagnosed with MDS or AML and determine whether the drug changed the patients' epigenetic bookmarks," explained Dr. Issa.

The study revealed that SGI-110 is well-tolerated, easily administered, and biologically and clinically active in both MDS and AML patients. Importantly, potent dose-related DNA demethylation, or reversal of the abnormal DNA methylation, is associated with clinical response in patients treated with the drug, with responders showing significantly more demethylation than non-responders. "This means that the drug is safe and those patients who had more changes of their epigenome responded more to the drug," said Dr. Issa.

The clinical trial was conducted at 13 leading cancer centers in the United States and Canada, treating a total of 93 patients (74 AML and 19 MDS).

"This study has led to a large phase II study that has not yet been published" said Dr. Issa. "The most exciting outcome of these studies is that this drug also started a new phase III clinical trial, and if successful, it can lead to FDA approval to treat leukemia patients." This phase III study was just opened at Fox Chase Cancer Center by Patricia L. Kropf, MD, Assistant Director of the Temple Bone Marrow Transplant Program.

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Editor's Note: SGI-110 is manufactured by Astex Pharmaceuticals. Neither Dr. Issa nor any members of his immediate family have financial interest in Astex Pharmaceuticals. Dr. Issa was previously a paid consultant for the company.

About Temple Health

Temple University Health System (TUHS) is a $1.8 billion academic health system dedicated to providing access to quality patient care and supporting excellence in medical education and research. The Health System consists of Temple University Hospital (TUH), ranked among the "Best Hospitals" in the region by U.S. News & World Report; TUH-Episcopal Campus; TUH-Northeastern Campus; Fox Chase Cancer Center, an NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center; Jeanes Hospital, a community-based hospital offering medical, surgical and emergency services; Temple Transport Team, a ground and air-ambulance company; and Temple Physicians, Inc., a network of community-based specialty and primary-care physician practices. TUHS is affiliated with Temple University School of Medicine.

Temple University School of Medicine (TUSM), established in 1901, is one of the nation's leading medical schools. Each year, the School of Medicine educates approximately 840 medical students and 140 graduate students. Based on its level of funding from the National Institutes of Health, Temple University School of Medicine is the second-highest ranked medical school in Philadelphia and the third-highest in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. According to U.S. News & World Report, TUSM is among the top 10 most applied-to medical schools in the nation.

Temple Health refers to the health, education and research activities carried out by the affiliates of Temple University Health System (TUHS) and by Temple University School of Medicine. TUHS neither provides nor controls the provision of health care. All health care is provided by its member organizations or independent health care providers affiliated with TUHS member organizations. Each TUHS member organization is owned and operated pursuant to its governing documents.

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