Kate Law, Cancer Research UK's director of clinical research, added:
In general the outlook for leukaemia patients has improved dramatically in recent decades. But when leukaemia is diagnosed in older people its much harder to treat and there is a real need for effective treatments that are suitable for this age group.
Importantly this new trial shows that GO may have particular benefits for patients over 60, who may be unsuitable for other more intensive treatments. This is good news and we are now looking to see if these results can be replicated in younger patients.
Chief investigator Professor Alan Burnett, from Cardiff Universitys School of Medicine, commented on the findings:
These promising results demonstrate how targeting a protein present in more than 90 per cent of AML patients can boost treatment without excessively increasing side effects.
Although there has been some controversy around the use of GO following its withdrawal in the US two years ago, these results appear extremely promising and suggest no such cause for concern if the appropriate dose is given. Crucially, this represents some of the first progress in treating AML patients of this age group for at least 20 years.
The results of the trial into a new type of smart drug given to Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patients show that GO treatment could improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy without excessively increasing side effects, according to the study.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, said that this may provide a potential lifeline for older AML patients who are often too frail to tolerate more intensive chemotherapy regimes.
Acute Myeloid Leukaemia patients given a new type of smart drug in addition to chemotherapy treatment are 22 percent less likely to relapse and around 13 percent less likely to die from their disease, according to a study released today.
The results from the major phase III Cancer Research UK-funded trial led by Cardiff University and trialled by 1,115 patients, found that 68 percent of people relapsed on the new treatment within three years, compared with 76 percent of those who had only had the standard treatment.
25 percent of those tested were still alive after three years, compared with 20 per cent of those who had the standard treatment.
The drug - called Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin (GO)* - is part of a new class of antibody conjugate drugs, which involve attaching chemotherapy molecules to antibodies.