A recent medical research at the University of North Carolina left a lot of scientists puzzled. The folks at the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center identified an unusually high rate of allergic reaction in cancer patients from the middle South using the chemo drug known as cetuximab.
Initially the geographic location of the patient and the high allergic reaction were considered to be a coincidence. But, when the rate of allergic reaction hit 22%, for the people from the mid South, researchers were baffled. The rate was only 2% for the patients from the other parts of the country. I would be confused as well!
When cetuximab was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the first three patients treated with the drug showed severe reactions to the drug. Most of these patients were from the mid Southern states of Tennessee, northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. In these states, the food and plant based allergens are a major concern. This is what increases the drug side effects.
Upon witnessing such a reaction, the developers of the drug Bristol-Myers Squibb, are working on improving the effects of the drug. An interesting aspect of this research is:cancer drug sensitivity cluster and not a cancer cluster. I think this is probably the first time I am hearing about something like this. The University of North Carolina study was presented at 43rd annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago in June, 2007.
Image Credits: UCSF