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Compound found in common wart treatment shows promise as leukemia therapy

Research to be featured at 2011 AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition

Arlington, Va. -- A new potential leukemia therapy targets only cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells alone. Many current chemotherapy treatments affect cancer cells and healthy cells, causing significant side effects, such as fatigue, hair loss, nausea, anxiety and depression. This research is being presented at the 2011 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 23 – 27.

Leukemia is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow, the spongy center of bones where blood cells are formed. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, an estimated 43,050 people were diagnosed with leukemia in the U.S. in 2010.

Lead researcher and AAPS fellow, Peter A. Crooks, Ph.D., and his colleagues from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences have developed a potent compound that only impacts cancer cells, and starts killing them as early as four hours after treatment begins.

"This is one of the most potent and selective compounds I have ever seen during my more than 30-year career," said Crooks.

The molecules used to create this anti-leukemic agent are structurally similar to the compound found in many gout treatments and over-the-counter products used to treat warts, which also prevent cell growth. This agent is able to reach cancer cells before they mature, so catching the disease in its early stages will eradicate it quickly. This is especially vital for treating acute myeloid leukemia, which progresses rapidly without treatment.

"It's good to get excited in the early stages of research when you discover a treatment that could potentially be as outstanding as this," said Crooks. "However, the next phase is to test the treatment in animal models and pinpoint the most effective delivery method."


The AAPS Annual Meeting and Exposition, the world's largest pharmaceutical sciences meeting aims to improve global health through advances in pharmaceutical sciences. AAPS, currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, has themed the keynote and plenary sessions at this year's Annual Meeting "The Next 25 Years." An estimated 9,000 scientists from around the world will participate in 90 sessions, including more than 60 symposia and roundtables.

Learn more about the meeting and global health from leading scientists in this webisode series and follow the tweet hashtag #AAPS2011 for meeting updates.

Editor's Note: All press must register and provide press credentials to attend this meeting. To register, please contact  703-248-4740  prior to the meeting or visit room 149A during the conference. To schedule an interview with Peter Crooks or any other press inquiry, please contact Hillarie Turner at  202-296-2002  x113.

About AAPS: The American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists is a professional, scientific society of approximately 12,000 members employed in academia, industry, government and other research institutes worldwide. For more information, please visit

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