I have been taking an oral chemotherapy medication, Revlimid, for over three years. There is no question it is helping keep my bone marrow cancer, multiple myeloma, under control. This press release from Celgene, makers of Revlimid, highlights another use for their drug. Myelodysplastic syndromes(MDS), is a blood cancer which stops blood cells from developing fully.

Already approved for use against MDS in the United States, it is good to know Japanese MDS patients will now have access to Revlimid. This Celgene International release explains more about MDS and how Revlimid can help:

REVLIMID® APPROVED FOR TREATMENT OF DELETION 5Q MYELODYSPLASTIC SYNDROMES IN JAPAN

BOUDRY, SWITZERLAND – (August 20, 2010) – Celgene International Sàrl (NASDAQ: CELG) announced that REVLIMID (lenalidomide) has been granted full marketing authorization by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare (MHLW) for the treatment of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) associated with a deletion 5q cytogenic abnormality. REVLIMID was also approved in June 2010 in combination with dexamethasone, for the treatment of patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma who have received at least one prior standard therapy.

The approval of REVLIMID was based upon the safety and efficacy results of several international trials in patients with deletion 5q MDS, which have supported regulatory approval in 19 countries worldwide.

As a result of the approval, REVLIMID will be available through RevMate™, the company’s proprietary distribution program. Celgene is now registering physicians and medical centers throughout the country into RevMate as part of its strategic launch.

About REVLIMID
REVLIMID is an IMiDs® compound. REVLIMID and other IMiDs compounds continue to be evaluated in over 100 clinical trials. The IMiDs pipeline is covered by a comprehensive intellectual property estate of U.S. and foreign issued and pending patent applications including composition-of- matter and use patents.

REVLIMID® is approved in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma who have received at least one prior therapy in more than 50 countries, encompassing Europe, the Americas, the Middle-East and Asia, and in Australia and New Zealand it is approved in combination with dexamethasone for the treatment of patients whose disease has progressed after one therapy.

REVLIMID is also approved in the United States, Canada and several Latin American countries, as well as Malaysia and Israel, Australia and New Zealand for patients with transfusion-dependent anemia due to Low- or Intermediate-1-risk MDS associated with a deletion 5q cytogenetic abnormality with or without additional cytogenetic abnormalities. Marketing Authorization Applications are currently being evaluated in a number of other countries.

About Myelodysplastic Syndromes
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are a group of hematologic malignancies that affect approximately 300,000 people worldwide. Myelodysplastic syndromes occur when blood cells remain in an immature or “blast” stage within the bone marrow and never develop into mature cells capable of performing their necessary functions. Eventually, the bone marrow may be filled with blast cells suppressing normal cell development. MDS patients must often rely on blood transfusions to manage symptoms of anemia and fatigue and may develop life-threatening iron overload and/or toxicity from frequent transfusions, thus underscoring the critical need for new therapies targeting the cause of the condition rather than simply managing its symptoms.

About Deletion 5q Chromosomal Abnormality
Chromosomal (cytogenetic) abnormalities are detected in more than half of patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and involve a deletion in all or part of one or more specific chromosomes. The most common cytogenetic abnormalities in MDS are deletions in the long arm of chromosomes 5, 7, and 20. Another common abnormality is an extra copy of chromosome 8. A deletion involving the 5q chromosome may be involved in 20 percent to 30 percent of all MDS patients. The World Health Organization has also recently identified a unique subset of MDS patients with a “5q- Syndrome” where the only chromosomal abnormality is a specific portion of the 5q chromosome.

Yesterday’s post/link to a less than optimistic article about the lack of progress being made treating cancer, obviously wasn’t considering the impressive and hopeful progress researches are making against blood and bone marrow cancers. Drugs like Revlimid are expensive–but at least they work for a large number of patients.
Feel good and keep smiling! Pat

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