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New Leukemia Drug (Venclexta®) Developed by AbbVie
April 15, 2016

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New leukemia drug, Venclexta® (venetoclax), has been developed by AbbVie Inc. of North Chicago, Illinois, and granted accelerated approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). AbbVie is a member of the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association (IMCA). Scientists developed this new cancer pharmaceutical in part by proprietary research conducted at the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association Collaborative Access Team (IMCA-CAT) X-ray beamline at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, Advanced Photon Source.

The FDA press release, issued on April 11, 2016, notes that

"...Venclexta (venetoclax) [has been approved] for the treatment of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) who have a chromosomal abnormality called 17p deletion and who have been treated with at least one prior therapy. Venclexta is the first FDA-approved treatment that targets the B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) protein, which supports cancer cell growth and is overexpressed in many patients with CLL.

"According to the National Cancer Institute, CLL is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults, with approximately 15,000 new cases diagnosed each year. CLL is characterized by the progressive accumulation of abnormal lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. Patients with CLL who have a 17p deletion lack a portion of the chromosome that acts to suppress cancer growth. This chromosomal abnormality occurs in approximately 10 percent of patients with untreated CLL and in approximately 20 percent of patients with relapsed CLL."

“ "These patients now have a new, targeted therapy that inhibits a protein involved in keeping tumor cells alive," ” said Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “For certain patients with CLL who have not had favorable outcomes with other therapies, Venclexta may provide a new option for their specific condition.”


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This research used resources at the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association Collaborative Access Team (IMCA-CAT) beamline 17-ID, supported by the companies of the Industrial Macromolecular Crystallography Association through a contract with Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute.

This research used resources at the Advanced Photon Source, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science User Facility operated for the DOE Office of Science by Argonne National Laboratory under Contract No. DE-AC02-06CH11357.