February 11, 2015

Medical breakthrough achieved in Finland

Collaboration between researchers from the academic and business worlds led to a major discovery in a recent research project.
Collaboration between researchers from the academic and business worlds led to a major discovery in a recent research project.
Seppo Samuli / Lehtikuva

A study carried out in Finland demonstrates that a drug used to treat kidney cancer is also efficient against certain difficult-to-treat forms of leukemia.

This was the finding of a study led by researchers at the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland (FIMM), University of Helsinki’s medical faculty and the Helsinki University Central Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center and carried out in close collaboration with researchers at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. The research team studied cancer cells from patients with chronic and acute leukemia that had developed resistance to currently available treatments.

The study demonstrated that axitinib, a drug used in the treatment of kidney cancer, inhibits the growth of leukemia cells that exhibit a certain type of genetic mutation. This genetic mutation makes leukemia resistant to other cancer therapeutics. Axtinib is a drug developed by Pfizer.

“Axitinib is already in use as a drug. That is why its effect in the treatment of leukemia can possibly be explored much faster and with lower costs compared to developing a new drug. This, of course, is good news for the patients,” says Professor Kimmo Porkka, head of Hematology at Helsinki University Central Hospital Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of the lead researchers.

The findings of the international joint effort were published on Monday, 9 February in Nature, one of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals.

Looking for more good news? Subscribe to our newsletter

Share: