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Arsenic could cure leukemia

12 April 2010 Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

ArsenicArsenic could cure leukemia by targeting and destroying specific proteins responsible for the outbreak and spread of cancer. The study was led by Zhang Xiaowei at the State Key Laboratory of Medical Genomic in Shanghai, China.

“Unlike chemotherapy, the side effects of arsenic (in treating acute promyelocytic leukemia) are very low. There is no hair loss or suppression of bone marrow (function). We are interested in finding out how arsenic can be used in other cancers,’ said Zhang.

Arsenic, favorite murder weapon in the Middle Ages and well known for its toxicity,  was used to treat acute promyelocytic leukemia in 1992 by a group of Chinese doctors with cure rates of over 90%.  Also, although until this study nobody knew exactly how arsenic actually works and how it interacts with cancer tissues, arsenic has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for at least 2000 years.

“The clinical result of arsenic in treating APL is well-established. More than 90 percent of APL patients in China have (at least) five years of disease-free survival,” Zhang said. “Although many countries are now using arsenic to treat APL, some countries are resistant to the idea. It depends a lot on whether doctors recommend it and whether patients accept it.”

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