The drug Jakavi (ruxolitinib) is being investigated as a possible treatment for polycythemia vera (PV) and myelofibrosis. Results from studies into this were presented by Novartis at the 23rd Congress of the European Hematology Association in Sweden. The full article can be found here, at Novartis.
Research into Jakavi for the treatment of polycythemia vera (PV)
Researchers compared patients taking part in the Phase 3 Response clinical trial of Jakavi with a Spanish patient registry of patients with PV from GEMFIN. They found that, for patients who are resistant or intolerant to the treatment hydroxyurea, treatment with Jakavi decreased the risk of developing blood clots (thrombosis) and death compared to using the best available therapy.
Polycythemia vera is a slow-growing blood cancer that is part of a wider group of cancers known as myeloproliferative neoplasms. It occurs when a person’s bone marrow produces too many red blood cells, which thicken the blood causing it to flow more slowly, and, in some cases, can lead to complications such as blood clots that can cause stroke and heart attacks. It usually occurs in people over the age of 60, and since it is so slow growing it often remains undiagnosed for a long period.
One treatment sometimes prescribed for the condition is hydroxyurea, which works by reducing the number of red blood cells produced. Novartis is currently investigating Jakavi (ruxolitinib) as a possible option for patients who are not helped by hydroxyurea, and the results appear to be encouraging. Jakavi was linked to a reduced risk of blood clots and death compared to the best available therapy.
Research into Jakavi for the treatment of myelofibrosis (MF)
Jakavi is also being investigated for the treatment of MF, and the results seem to be promising.
Myelofibrosis, like PV, is a type of myeloproliferative neoplasm. It also affects the body’s production of blood cells and leads to bone marrow scarring. This causes symptoms such as anaemia, fatigue, weakness, and an enlarged spleen.
The Jump clinical trial is an expanded access Phase 3b study of Jakavi for the treatment of MF. So far 2,233 MF patients have been involved with Jump. Data from the study indicates that Jakavi may be an effective treatment for reducing spleen size in patients with lower-risk MF. Most patients achieved a reduction of 50% or more. The reduction is hypothesised to be greater for patients who are treated earlier on in the course of the disease and for patients that take a higher dose.
Another Phase Ib study called Expand also evaluated the effects of Jakavi on patients with MF and low platelet counts. This trial found that just under one-third of participants achieved a 50% or greater reduction in spleen size after 48 weeks of treatment.