Brian Druker to Receive National Leukemia Award

03/17/00    Portland, Ore.

OHSU Researcher Who Discovered CML Treatment Honored for Medical Advancement

Brian J. Druker, M.D., will be honored this weekend by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (formerly the Leukemia Society of America) in Washington, D.C., with the organization's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Druker, an associate professor of medicine (hematology and medical oncology), cell and developmental biology, and biochemistry and molecular biology at the Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, developed a pill that has sent dozens of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia into remission. Druker and Novartis Pharmaceuticals have begun phase II trials of the drug, STI-571, at 19 sites in the United States and Europe. Because of the promising results thus far in the clinical trials, the Food and Drug Administration says STI-571 is on a fast track and could be approved for sale as early as 2002 if tests continue to go well.

About 6,000 Americans each year come down with CML, a disease characterized by an excessive proliferation of white blood cells. Over time, those cells shut down the body's immune system and cause death. STI-571 targets the enzyme that causes the excessive white blood cells and leaves other cells alone. The drug has produced few side effects, and in the first phase of trials, 31 of 31 patients at the effective dose saw their blood counts return to normal within a month.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society will present the award at the Year 2000 Leukemia Ball on Saturday, March 18. Reba McEntire and Martina McBride will be among the entertainers performing at the benefit.