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Lab Reports
February 6, 2013

Safer Cancer Drug

JAMA. 2013;309(5):431. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.269

An international group of investigators has modified an existing drug to make it more effective in treating hematological cancers with fewer adverse effects (Souers AJ et al. Nature Med. doi:10.1038/nm.3048 [published online January 6, 2013]).

In cancer cells, navitoclax targets BCL-2, a prosurvival protein (a molecule that helps the cancer cell evade programmed cell death). But navitoclax also inhibits BCL-2–like 1 (BCL-XL), which is a related factor required for the survival of platelets. Therefore, treatment with the drug often causes thrombocytopenia.