Jefferson seeks patients for cancer drug trial

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Researchers at Jefferson University Hospital are seeking patients for a Phase 3 trial of an oral drug to treat a rare form of cancer.

Myelofibrosis is a chronic bone marrow disorder caused by the accumulation of malignant bone marrow cells.

These cells cause inflammation, scarring the bone marrow and limiting its ability to produce blood cells.

The spleen and liver try to take over this function, however, the growing spleen then causes problems, because it compresses the patient's stomach and bowels.

Patients suffer malnutrition and lose weight, and their platelet count drops, creating a condition known as thrombocytopenia.

People with myelofibrosis can also experience extreme fatigue, itching and pain.

Dr. Srikanth Nagalla, the director of clinical hematology at Jefferson University Hospital, is studying pacritinib against current treatment in what is called the PERSIST-2 trial.

Dr. Nagalla says, "Myelofibrosis can affect anyone, but it's most often diagnosed in people in their 50s and 60s."

And the sometimes-silent disease has been linked to exposure to industrial chemicals like toluene and benzene.

It is also more common among people exposed to high levels of radiation, such as survivors of atomic bomb attacks.

"Existing treatments don't work for everyone and may stop providing benefit at some point in the treatment course," says Dr. Nagalla.

"Current therapies also result in lowering the blood counts which limits the patients treatments options and may mean we need to lower the dose or discontinue and then patients may not have the best responses,"

In the PERSIST-2 trial, patients will undergo periodic CT or MRI scans and be asked to keep a daily electronic diary on their symptoms.

For more information on the trial, consult your doctor or contact (215) 955-4730 and ask to speak with Peg Gibbs, R.N. to learn more about eligibility.