The world’s first drug to prevent proliferation of cancerous cells, established by Israeli scientist Dr. Sharon Shacham, just received FDA approval, kicking off Leukemia Awareness Month.

XPOVIO was developed by Karyopharm Therapeutics, a Newton, Massachusetts company established by Israel’s Dr. Sharon Shacham.

“We believe that our activity at Karyopharm constitutes an important milestone in the war on cancer,” she said.

The FDA first approved the drug for sale in July after 10 years of development. Karyopharm wrote in a press release that within six days of the FDA’s approval, cancer patients in the USA began receiving XPOVIO.

During a pivotal trial that led to the drug’s approval, approximately 40% of patients saw their tumors shrink. Karyopharm also reported that patient life expectancy increased by three to five times thanks to the treatment.

XPOVIO has been mainly used to treat myeloma, the second most common type of blood cancer, which affects 400 to 500 people in Israel annually, according to a Karyopharm Therapeutics press release.

While XPOVIO has been mainly used to treat myeloma type leukemia, it has larger implications on the future of cancer treatment and may hold the answer for patients with other types of cancers. In a press release, Karyopharm said that the treatment is “undergoing advanced clinical trials with various types of cancer patients, among them myeloma, lymphoma, sarcoma, uterine cancer and brain cancer.”

The biggest challenge when fighting cancer is understanding why the body allows cancer cells to grow in the first place, but Karyopharm attributes its success to its developing a treatment that focuses on the protein that plays a key role in cancer growth, which is how XPOVIO fights the disease.

Anat Haas Mizrahi, general manager of Karyopharm, wrote that, “Most of the clinical trials are open to patients in Israel. Naturally, we will continue to works towards receiving approval to market and sell XPOVIO in Israel as well.”


Read more: The Jerusalem Post