Help For Blood Disorder

Help for Blood Disorder

Help for Blood DisorderIn the 60s, the drug thalidomide was known for causing birth defects. Now, 40 years later, a form of this drug could be the answer to keeping some patients alive. Here's how thalidomide is helping patients beat a blood disorder.

Enjoying life is what Duncan Ross and his wife Monica want to do. But in 2001, Duncan was diagnosed with a blood disorder called myelodysplastic syndrome. The disease can lead to leukemia.

To manage the symptoms of MDS, Duncan had to have blood transfusions every two weeks, but he refused to give up hope. He says, "You have to know what your options are, and the way you get that is through the miracle of the Internet."

By keeping up with journal articles online, Duncan found out about a new drug called Revlimid. It's a derivative of the drug, thalidomide.

Hematologist Alan List, M.D., says, "This is the biggest thing we have ever had for this disease."

Help for Blood DisorderDr. List, of Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., heads the research on Revlimid. He says the drug targets the cause of the disease. “This actually changes the bone marrow itself and makes it work effectively -- like a normal bone marrow,” he says.

Duncan started on the drug in September 2003. He had one blood transfusion then, but has not needed one since. "My life has been given back to me," he says. "It's a virtual miracle."

"In 20 years of dealing with patients with myelodysplasia, we have never had anything with this magnitude of benefit for individuals that can cause a remission, particularly with just a pill," Dr. List says.

Help for Blood DisorderWhile no one will say it’s a cure, Duncan says he likes to think it’s close.

Revlimid is also being studied in patients with melanoma and prostate cancer. It is not FDA approved and is only available for patients who are part of a clinical research trial.

If you would like more information, please contact:

Joann Harrison, R.N.
The Cancer and Blood Disease Center
(352) 746-0707