VIDAZA Restores Gene Function to Double Survival and Increase Transfusion
CROSSWICKS, N.J., Feb. 18 /PRNewswire/ -- The Myelodysplastic Syndromes
(MDS) Foundation says data published in the peer reviewed medical journal The
Lancet Oncology confirms VIDAZA extends survival for patients with higher-risk
MDS. Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of blood-related malignancies that
are difficult to treat and in higher-risk patients have a median survival rate
of less than one year. Symptoms include anemia and fatigue, and often patients
must rely on blood transfusions to manage the symptoms. VIDAZA, also known by
its chemical name, azacitidine, represents a new approach to treatment with
important benefits for patients with MDS, and a related condition called acute
myeloid leukemia (AML).
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"The data from this large international study of VIDAZA is important news
for the patients we represent, validating a new treatment option and offering
tangible results for this difficult-to-treat disease," said Kathy Heptinstall,
Operating Director of the Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation.
"VIDAZA was able to essentially double survival at two years compared to
conventional care," says Lewis Silverman, M.D., of Mount Sinai Medical Center
in New York and senior study author. "VIDAZA is the first and only drug that
we know extends survival."
In MDS, genes responsible for orderly growth and development of cells in
the bone marrow are turned off or silenced, allowing the cells to become
malignant. VIDAZA turns these genes back on through a system of actions called
epigenetics, a new approach to cancer treatment. It is also the first drug to
achieve transfusion independence in more than 40% of patients. Transfusions
can be time consuming, debilitating and run the risk of iron overload that can
MDS patient Bob Urbanski notes, "I needed blood transfusions as often as
twice a month, but with VIDAZA I haven't needed a transfusion for at least 14
The published data refer specifically to categories of MDS known as
intermediate-2 or high-risk MDS, as well as AML with 20 to 30 percent bone
marrow blasts. VIDAZA has been available in the United States for four years
and it was recently approved in Europe.
MDS is a primary neoplasm of the bone marrow that is more prevalent than
any of the leukemias. MDS affects the function of blood cells; red blood
cells, white blood cells or platelets. It is not known exactly how many people
have MDS, however, according to current estimates, there are between 15,000
and 20,000 people diagnosed each year in Europe.
About the MDS Foundation
The Myelodysplastic Syndromes Foundation, Inc. is a multi-disciplinary,
international organization devoted to the prevention, treatment, and study of
the myelodysplastic syndromes. The organization is based upon the premise that
international cooperation will accelerate the process leading to the control
and cure of these diseases. For further information, please visit
The MDS Foundation, Inc.
For further information:
For further information: Kathy Heptinstall, Operating Director of The
MDS Foundation, Inc., +1-800-MDS-0839 Web Site: