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Research - Clinical trials for CML

Research - clinical trials for CML

Research trials are carried out to try to find new and better treatments for leukaemia. Trials that are carried out on patients are known as clinical trials.

Clinical trials may be carried out to:

  • test new treatments, such as new tyrosine kinase inhibitors, chemotherapy drugs or cancer vaccines
  • look at new combinations of existing treatments, or change the way they are given, to make them more effective or to reduce side effects
  • compare the effectiveness of drugs used for symptom control
  • find out how cancer treatments work
  • discover which treatments are the most cost-effective.

Trials are the only reliable way to find out if a different or new treatment is better than what is already available.

Taking part in a trial

You may be invited to take part in a treatment research trial. There can be many benefits in doing this. Trials help to improve knowledge about leukaemia and develop new treatments. You’ll also be carefully monitored during and after the study.

Usually, several hospitals around the country take part in these trials. It’s important to bear in mind that some treatments that look promising at first are often later found not to be as good as existing treatments, or to have side effects that outweigh the benefits.

If you decide not to take part in a trial, your decision will be respected and you don’t have to give a reason. There will be no change in the way you’re treated by the hospital staff and you’ll be offered the standard treatment for your situation.

Blood and tumour samples

Many blood and bone marrow samples may be taken to make the right diagnosis. You may be asked for your permission to use some of your samples for research into cancer.

Some samples may be frozen and stored for future use when new research techniques become available.

The research may be carried out at the hospital where you are treated, or at another one. This type of research takes a long time, so you are unlikely to hear the results. The samples will be used to increase knowledge about the causes of cancer and its treatment. This research will hopefully improve the outlook for future patients.

Current research

A study called SPIRIT2 is trying to find out whether a tyrosine kinase inhibitor called dasatinib works better than the current standard treatment (imatinib) as a first treatment in chronic phase CML. People who are newly diagnosed with CML in chronic phase will be eligible to take part.

Another study is investigating a drug called omacetaxine. Tyrosine kinase inhibitors work well for most people with chronic phase CML but in some people the CML doesn’t respond. Researchers are working to develop new types of drugs, such as omacetaxine, that may be effective for people in this situation.

The study is being run to find out if omacetaxine will work for people who have CML that hasn’t responded to treatment with at least two tyrosine kinase inhibitors or who have CML with a very specific type of gene change called T3151 and who haven’t responded to treatment with imatinib.

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