Mayo Clinic Cancer Center -- Working on the tough cases

December 11, 2006

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Mayo Clinic Cancer Center, in collaboration with researchers from the University of Iowa, today presented results of a Phase II clinical study indicating that an oral drug, tipifarnib, can stall or reverse disease progression for patients with relapsed aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Lead researcher and Mayo Clinic hematologist Thomas Witzig, M.D., discussed the findings at the 2006 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting in Orlando.

"Patients with aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma who relapse after conventional therapy or stem cell replacement traditionally have a poor prognosis," says Dr. Witzig. "We are hoping to find new approaches that are well-tolerated that will help this group of people experience a longer and higher-quality life. These preliminary results seem to indicate that tipifarnib has anti-tumor activity and is well-tolerated."

Dr. Witzig's team treated patients with relapsed diffuse large, follicular grade III or mantle cell lymphoma with 300 milligrams of oral tipifarnib twice daily for 21 out of 28 days, restarting the cycle every four weeks until disease progression. Of the 38 patients who were evaluated, 18 percent had partial response, resulting in a reduction of cancerous cells, and 21 percent had stable disease. Thirty-three percent required dose reduction due to myelosuppression (reduction in the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells).

"We were pleased with the results of this study because it demonstrates that tipifarnib has some single-agent activity in this aggressive tumor group," says Dr. Witzig. "Now we need to combine it with other effective agents to further enhance the activity for our patients."

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma is a cancer of the lymphatic system that affects nearly 60,000 new patients each year in the United States. It starts with genetic errors in the lymph nodes or other lymphoid tissues (such as the bone marrow, spleen or thymus) and spreads.
Elizabeth Zimmermann
507-284-2511 (evenings)

EMBARGOED: Hold for release until
Monday, Dec. 11, 2006, 1:45 p.m. EST
2006 American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting

Others from Mayo Clinic who collaborated on this research included Matthew Maurer; Patrick Johnston, M.D., Ph.D.; Joseph Colgan, M.D.; Scott Kaufmann, M.D., Ph.D.; David Inwards, M.D.; Ivana Micallef, M.D.; Stephen Ansell, M.D., Ph.D.; Clive Zent, M.D.; Cristine Allmer; and Thomas Habermann, M.D. Collaborators from the University of Iowa included George Weiner, M.D.; James Wooldridge, M.D.; and Brian Link, M.D.

To find out more about treatment of blood diseases at Mayo Clinic, visit Information regarding Mayo Clinic Cancer Center's related research is available online at

This research was conducted as part of a National Cancer Institute (NCI) awarded lymphoma Specialized Program of Research Excellence (SPORE) grant jointly held by the University of Iowa and Mayo Clinic. This grant is one of six SPORE cancer research programs at Mayo Clinic's sites in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota. Mayo Clinic Cancer Center also has been awarded SPORE grants in breast, brain, pancreatic and prostate cancer, and collaborates with another institution on a myeloma SPORE.

NCI established the SPORE program in 1992 to promote interdisciplinary research and speed the transition of basic research findings from the laboratory to applied settings involving patients and populations. The program's goal is to bring into clinical care novel ideas that potentially can reduce cancer incidence and mortality, improve survival and enhance patients' quality of life. Laboratory and clinical scientists collaboratively plan, design and implement research programs focused on cancer prevention and control, early detection, diagnosis, treatment and survival.

To obtain the latest news releases from Mayo Clinic, go to ( is available as a resource for your health stories.

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