Medical Breakthrough: FDA approves of new treatment for rare blood cancer

1 month 1 week 3 days ago Monday, March 04 2024 Mar 4, 2024 March 04, 2024 1:05 PM March 04, 2024 in News

Blood cancer is one of the rarer forms of cancer.

It's also harder to treat, but now there's a new option that's helping patients across the county.

Ten percent of all cancers are blood cancers, one of which is Myelofibrosis, which affects about 25,000 people in the United States.

There are few drugs approved for treating it, but now, the FDA has just approved one that helps patients with anemia, a devastating side effect of the life-threatening disease.

Andrew and Esther Schorr are on a mission to spread the word about Myelofibrosis, something they know about all to well.

"I had some pain in my legs, turned out to be some blood clots, which was a shocker," Andrew said.

Andrew was diagnosed with the rare blood cancer in 2011. At the time, there were no drugs for Myelofibrosis.

Andrew religiously worked out, ran eight marathons, was a world traveler, but now, he struggles with exhaustion.

"When you're anemic, you're not getting the oxygen circulating around your body with your blood, and you can be dead tired," Andrew said.

"All the patients with Myelofibrosis can have anemia at some point in their disease," City of Hope Hematologist Oncologist Haris Ali said.

Ali says patients have limited treatment options. Usually, a patient is anemic, and they can't get blood transfusions without significant risks.

More than 30 percent are forced to quit MF treatment. Now, the FDA has approved the first treatment for anemia to help MF patients.

"So, Ojjaara is a JAK inhibitor. It actually targets that pathway to help with the symptoms and also with the anemia," Ali said.

The once-a-day pill helps to treat anemia, so patients can get back on their treatment plans.

Andrew is hopeful that this is the first of many for people struggling with this disease.

Ojjaara is the fourth drug to ever be approved to treat Myelofibrosis, but is the only one that helps to treat the anemia these patients suffer from.

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