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Developed in Melbourne, Venetoclax has been approved by Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration for some stage-four patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), specifically patients who have not responded to standard treatments, or for those who have not been able to undergo other therapies, such as chemotherapy. The drug can be taken orally once a day
Venetoclax works by blocking the action of a protein, known as BCL-2, which is overactive and prevents cancer cells from dying in many types of cancer, particularly leukemia. Researchers around the world have been looking for a way to stop the protein for more than 30 years.
Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre haematologist, Dr Maryann Anderson said “… 80 per cent of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia will actually respond to this drug,” and “Approximately 20 per cent of those patients will achieve a complete remission. Most excitingly, we’re seeing that we’re getting very good responses amongst patients with the most high risk disease.”
The cost of the drug to patients is not yet known, but the process to place it on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme had begun.
The drug has already been approved for use in the United States and the European Union.