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1.  The iron chelator deferasirox enhances liposomal amphotericin B efficacy in treating murine invasive pulmonary aspergillosis 
Increased bone marrow iron levels in patients with haematological malignancies is an independent risk factor for developing invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA), suggesting an important role for iron uptake in the pathogenesis of IPA. We sought to determine the potential for combination therapy with the iron chelator deferasirox + liposomal amphotericin B (LAmB) to improve the outcome of murine IPA compared with LAmB monotherapy.
In vitro MIC and minimum fungicidal concentration (MFC) values of the iron chelator, deferasirox, for Aspergillus fumigatus were determined by microdilution assay. In addition, we studied the efficacy of deferasirox alone or combined with LAmB in treating immunocompromised mice infected with A. fumigatus via inhalation.
Deferasirox was cidal in vitro against A. fumigatus, with an MIC and MFC of 25 and 50 mg/L, respectively. Deferasirox monotherapy modestly prolonged survival of mice with IPA. Combination deferasirox + LAmB therapy synergistically improved survival and reduced lung fungal burden compared with either monotherapy alone.
Iron chelation therapy with deferasirox alone or in combination with LAmB is effective in treating experimental IPA. Further study of deferasirox is warranted as adjunctive therapy for IPA infections.
PMCID: PMC2902852  PMID: 19942619
Aspergillus fumigatus; LAmB; IPA
2.  A randomised comparison of deferasirox versus deferoxamine for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in sickle cell disease 
British Journal of Haematology  2007;136(3):501-508.
Deferasirox is a once-daily, oral iron chelator developed for treating transfusional iron overload. Preclinical studies indicated that the kidney was a potential target organ of toxicity. As patients with sickle cell disease often have abnormal baseline renal function, the primary objective of this randomised, open-label, phase II trial was to evaluate the safety and tolerability of deferasirox in comparison with deferoxamine in this population. Assessment of efficacy, as measured by change in liver iron concentration (LIC) using biosusceptometry, was a secondary objective. A total of 195 adult and paediatric patients received deferasirox (n = 132) or deferoxamine (n = 63). Adverse events most commonly associated with deferasirox were mild, including transient nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain and skin rash. Abnormal laboratory studies with deferasirox were occasionally associated with mild non-progressive increases in serum creatinine and reversible elevations in liver function tests. Discontinuation rates from deferasirox (11·4%) and deferoxamine (11·1%) were similar. Over 1 year, similar dose-dependent LIC reductions were observed with deferasirox and deferoxamine. Once-daily oral deferasirox has acceptable tolerability and appears to have similar efficacy to deferoxamine in reducing iron burden in transfused patients with sickle cell disease.
PMCID: PMC1974786  PMID: 17233848
deferasirox; ICL670; Exjade; sickle cell disease; iron overload
3.  The iron chelator deferasirox protects mice from mucormycosis through iron starvation 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2007;117(9):2649-2657.
Mucormycosis causes mortality in at least 50% of cases despite current first-line therapies. Clinical and animal data indicate that the presence of elevated available serum iron predisposes the host to mucormycosis. Here we demonstrate that deferasirox, an iron chelator recently approved for use in humans by the US FDA, is a highly effective treatment for mucormycosis. Deferasirox effectively chelated iron from Rhizopus oryzae and demonstrated cidal activity in vitro against 28 of 29 clinical isolates of Mucorales at concentrations well below clinically achievable serum levels. When administered to diabetic ketoacidotic or neutropenic mice with mucormycosis, deferasirox significantly improved survival and decreased tissue fungal burden, with an efficacy similar to that of liposomal amphotericin B. Deferasirox treatment also enhanced the host inflammatory response to mucormycosis. Most importantly, deferasirox synergistically improved survival and reduced tissue fungal burden when combined with liposomal amphotericin B. These data support clinical investigation of adjunctive deferasirox therapy to improve the poor outcomes of mucormycosis with current therapy. As iron availability is integral to the pathogenesis of other infections (e.g., tuberculosis, malaria), broader investigation of deferasirox as an antiinfective treatment is warranted.
PMCID: PMC1957543  PMID: 17786247
4.  Long-term safety and efficacy of deferasirox (Exjade®) for up to 5 years in transfusional iron-overloaded patients with sickle cell disease 
British Journal of Haematology  2011;154(3):387-397.
To date, there is a lack of long-term safety and efficacy data for iron chelation therapy in transfusion-dependent patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). To evaluate the long-term safety and efficacy of deferasirox (a once-daily oral iron chelator), patients with SCD completing a 1-year, Phase II, randomized, deferoxamine (DFO)-controlled study entered a 4-year extension, continuing to receive deferasirox, or switching from DFO to deferasirox. Average actual deferasirox dose was 19·4 ± 6·3 mg/kg per d. Of 185 patients who received at least one deferasirox dose, 33·5% completed the 5-year study. The most common reasons for discontinuation were withdrawal of consent (23·8%), lost to follow-up (9·2%) and adverse events (AEs) (7·6%). Investigator-assessed drug-related AEs were predominantly gastrointestinal [including nausea (14·6%), diarrhoea (10·8%)], mild-to-moderate and transient in nature. Creatinine clearance remained within the normal range throughout the study. Despite conservative initial dosing, serum ferritin levels in patients with ≥4 years deferasirox exposure significantly decreased by −591 μg/l (95% confidence intervals, −1411, −280 μg/l; P=0·027; n=67). Long-term deferasirox treatment for up to 5 years had a clinically acceptable safety profile, including maintenance of normal renal function, in patients with SCD. Iron burden was substantially reduced with appropriate dosing in patients treated for at least 4 years.
PMCID: PMC3170481  PMID: 21592110
deferasirox; Exjade; oral iron chelator; sickle cell disease; iron overload
5.  Update on the use of deferasirox in the management of iron overload 
Regular blood transfusions as supportive care for patients with chronic anemia inevitably lead to iron overload as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. The cumulative effects of iron overload cause significant morbidity and mortality if not effectively treated with chelation therapy. Based on a comprehensive clinical development program, the once-daily, oral iron chelator deferasirox (Exjade®) is approved for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in adult and pediatric patients with various transfusion-dependent anemias, including β-thalassemia and the myelodysplastic syndromes. Deferasirox dose should be titrated for each individual patient based on transfusional iron intake, current iron burden and whether the goal is to decrease or maintain body iron levels. Doses of >30 mg/kg/day have been shown to be effective with a safety profile consistent with that observed at doses <30 mg/kg/day. Recent data have highlighted the ability of deferasirox to decrease cardiac iron levels and to prevent the accumulation of iron in the heart. The long-term efficacy and safety of deferasirox for up to 5 years of treatment have now been established. The availability of this effective and generally well tolerated oral therapy represents a significant advance in the management of transfusional iron overload.
PMCID: PMC2773754  PMID: 19898650
deferasirox; Exjade; oral; iron chelation; iron overload; cardiac iron
6.  Exjade® (deferasirox, ICL670) in the treatment of chronic iron overload associated with blood transfusion 
Although blood transfusions are important for patients with anemia, chronic transfusions inevitably lead to iron overload as humans cannot actively remove excess iron. The cumulative effects of iron overload lead to significant morbidity and mortality, if untreated. Although the current reference standard iron chelator deferoxamine has been used clinically for over four decades, its effectiveness is limited by a demanding therapeutic regimen that leads to poor compliance. Deferasirox (Exjade®, ICL670, Novartis Pharma AG, Basel, Switzerland) is a once-daily, oral iron chelator approved for the treatment of transfusional iron overload in adult and pediatric patients. The efficacy and safety of deferasirox have been established in a comprehensive clinical development program involving patients with various transfusion-dependent anemias. Deferasirox has a dose-dependent effect on iron burden, and is as efficacious as deferoxamine at comparable therapeutic doses. Deferasirox therapy can be tailored to a patient’s needs, as response is related to both dose and iron intake. Since deferasirox has a long half-life and is present in the plasma for 24 hours with once-daily dosing, it is unique in providing constant chelation coverage with a single dose. The availability of this convenient, effective, and well tolerated therapy represents a significant advance in the management of transfusional iron overload.
PMCID: PMC1936310  PMID: 18360637
Exjade; deferasirox; transfusional iron overload; effective
7.  Deferasirox treatment of iron-overloaded chelation-naïve and prechelated patients with myelodysplastic syndromes in medical practice: results from the observational studies eXtend and eXjange 
European Journal of Haematology  2012;88(3):260-268.
EXtend and eXjange were prospective, 1-yr, non-interventional, observational, multicentre studies that investigated deferasirox, a once-daily oral iron chelator, in iron-overloaded chelation-naïve and prechelated patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS), respectively, treated in the daily-routine setting of office-based physicians. No inclusion or exclusion criteria or additional monitoring procedures were applied. Deferasirox was administered as recommended in the European Summary of Product Characteristics. Haematological parameters and adverse events (AEs) were collected at two-monthly intervals. Data from 123 chelation-naïve patients with MDS (mean age 70.4 yrs) with median baseline serum ferritin level of 2679 (range 184–16 500) ng/mL, and 44 prechelated patients with MDS (mean age 69.6 yrs) with median baseline serum ferritin level of 2442 (range 521–8565) ng/mL, were assessed. The mean prescribed daily dose of deferasirox at the first visit was 15.7 and 18.7 mg/kg/d, respectively. Treatment with deferasirox produced a significant reduction in median serum ferritin levels in chelation-naïve patients with MDS from 2679 to 2000 ng/mL (P = 0.0002) and a pronounced decrease in prechelated patients with MDS from 2442 to 2077 ng/mL (P = 0.06). The most common drug-related AEs were gastrointestinal, increased serum creatinine levels and rash. These studies demonstrate that deferasirox used in physicians’ medical practices is effective in managing iron burden in transfusion-dependent patients with MDS.
PMCID: PMC3505370  PMID: 22023452
deferasirox; oral; myelodysplastic syndromes; iron overload; iron chelation; serum ferritin; safety
8.  The Deferasirox–AmBisome Therapy for Mucormycosis (DEFEAT Mucor) study: a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial 
Host iron availability is fundamental to mucormycosis pathogenesis. The combination of liposomal amphotericin B (LAmB) and deferasirox iron chelation therapy synergistically improved survival in diabetic mice with mucormycosis. To determine the safety of combination deferasirox plus LAmB therapy for mucormycosis, a multicentred, placebo-controlled, double-blinded clinical trial was conducted.
Twenty patients with proven or probable mucormycosis were randomized to receive treatment with LAmB plus deferasirox (20 mg/kg/day for 14 days) or LAmB plus placebo (NCT00419770, The primary analyses were for safety and exploratory efficacy.
Patients in the deferasirox arm (n = 11) were more likely than those in the placebo arm (n = 9) to have active malignancy, neutropenia and corticosteroid therapy, and were less likely to receive concurrent non-study antifungal therapy. Reported adverse events and serious adverse events were similar between the groups. However, death was more frequent in the deferasirox than in the placebo arm at 30 days (45% versus 11%, P = 0.1) and 90 days (82% versus 22%, P = 0.01). Global success (alive, clinically stable, radiographically improved) for the deferasirox arm versus the placebo arm at 30 and 90 days, respectively, was 18% (2/11) versus 67% (6/9) (P = 0.06) and 18% (2/11) versus 56% (5/9) (P = 0.2).
Patients with mucormycosis treated with deferasirox had a higher mortality rate at 90 days. Population imbalances in this small Phase II study make generalizable conclusions difficult. Nevertheless, these data do not support a role for initial, adjunctive deferasirox therapy for mucormycosis.
PMCID: PMC3383100  PMID: 21937481
antifungal; fungal infections; mould infections; combination therapy
9.  Deferasirox and deferiprone remove cardiac iron in the iron-overloaded gerbil 
Deferasirox effectively controls liver iron concentration; however, little is known regarding its ability to remove stored cardiac iron. Deferiprone seems to have increased cardiac efficacy compared with traditional deferoxamine therapy. Therefore, the relative efficacy of deferasirox and deferiprone were compared in removing cardiac iron from iron-loaded gerbils.
Twenty-nine 8- to 10-week-old female gerbils underwent 10 weekly iron dextran injections of 200 mg/kg/week. Prechelation iron levels were assessed in 5 animals, and the remainder received deferasirox 100 mg/kg/D po QD (n = 8), deferiprone 375 mg/kg/D po divided TID (n = 8), or sham chelation (n = 8), 5 days/week for 12 weeks.
Deferasirox reduced cardiac iron content 20.5%. No changes occurred in cardiac weight, myocyte hypertrophy, fibrosis, or weight-to-dry weight ratio. Deferasirox treatment reduced liver iron content 51%. Deferiprone produced comparable reductions in cardiac iron content (18.6% reduction). Deferiprone-treated hearts had greater mass (16.5% increase) and increased myocyte hypertrophy. Deferiprone decreased liver iron content 24.9% but was associated with an increase in liver weight and water content.
Deferasirox and deferiprone were equally effective in removing stored cardiac iron in a gerbil animal model, but deferasirox removed more hepatic iron for a given cardiac iron burden.
PMCID: PMC2896322  PMID: 17145573
10.  Tobramycin and FDA-Approved Iron Chelators Eliminate Pseudomonas aeruginosa Biofilms on Cystic Fibrosis Cells 
The ability of Pseudomonas aeruginosa to form antibiotic-resistant biofilms is thought to account for the inability of current therapies to resolve bacterial infections in the lungs of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF). We recently described a system in which highly antibiotic-resistant P. aeruginosa biofilms grow on human CF airway epithelial cells, and using this system we showed that enhanced iron release from CF cells facilitates the development of such highly antibiotic-resistant biofilms. Given the positive role for iron in biofilm development, we investigated whether the FDA-approved iron chelators deferoxamine and deferasirox would enhance the ability of tobramycin, the primary antibiotic used to treat CF lung infections, to eliminate P. aeruginosa biofilms. The combination of tobramycin with deferoxamine or deferasirox reduced established biofilm biomass by approximately 90% and reduced viable bacteria by 7-log units. Neither tobramycin nor deferoxamine nor deferasirox alone had such a marked effect. The combination of tobramycin and FDA-approved iron chelators also prevented the formation of biofilms on CF airway cells. These data suggest that the combined use of tobramycin and FDA-approved iron chelators may be an effective therapy to treat patients with CF and other lung disease characterized by antibiotic-resistant P. aeruginosa biofilms.
PMCID: PMC2742750  PMID: 19168700
antibiotic resistance; biofilms; deferoxamine; deferasirox; cystic fibrosis model
11.  Reduction in labile plasma iron during treatment with deferasirox, a once-daily oral iron chelator, in heavily iron-overloaded patients with β-thalassaemia 
European Journal of Haematology  2009;82(6):454-457.
This subgroup analysis evaluated the effect of once-daily oral deferasirox on labile plasma iron (LPI) levels in patients from the prospective, 1-yr, multicentre ESCALATOR study. Mean baseline liver iron concentration and median serum ferritin levels were 28.6 ± 10.3 mg Fe/g dry weight and 6334 ng/mL respectively, indicating high iron burden despite prior chelation therapy. Baseline LPI levels (0.98 ± 0.82 μmol/L) decreased significantly to 0.12 ± 0.16 μmol/L, 2 h after first deferasirox dose (P=0.0006). Reductions from pre- to post-deferasirox administration were also observed at all other time points. Compared to baseline, there was a significant reduction in preadministration LPI that reached the normal range at week 4 and throughout the remainder of the study (P≤0.02). Pharmacokinetic analysis demonstrated an inverse relationship between preadministration LPI levels and trough deferasirox plasma concentrations. Once-daily dosing with deferasirox ≥20 mg/kg/d provided sustained reduction in LPI levels in these heavily iron-overloaded patients, suggesting 24-h protection from LPI. Deferasirox may therefore reduce unregulated tissue iron loading and prevent further end-organ damage.
PMCID: PMC2730549  PMID: 19191863
deferasirox; oral; β-thalassaemia; labile plasma iron; pharmacokinetic
12.  Deferasirox in Indian children with thalassemia major: 3 years experience 
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of the oral iron chelator deferasirox in treating transfusional hemosiderosis in a cohort of Indian children with thalassemia major with high iron load.
Materials and Methods:
The first 50 children (age 2-18 yrs) with thalassemia major to commence deferasirox at our center were enrolled and followed up for a period of 36 months between April 2008 and March 2011. The dose of deferasirox was determined by their baseline serum ferritin and was adjusted to a maximum of 40 mg/kg/day depending on response. Ferritin levels, SGOT, SGPT, serum creatinine and urine albumin were regularly monitored.
Of the 50 patients, 76% documented a significant decline in serum ferritin (P<0.05). Seven (14%) patients had a stable ferritin whilst 5 patients (10%) documented an increase over the study period. The mean serum ferritin at baseline, 12, 24 and 36 months was 4354, 3260, 3290 and 3042, respectively (P<0.05). The median serum ferritin at the same time points was 3555, 2810, 2079 and 2271, respectively (P<0.05). No severe toxicity was seen.
Deferasirox, when given in doses ≥30 mg/kg, was found to be an effective and safe drug in reducing transfusional hemosiderosis. Thirty five (70%) needed dose escalation upto 40 mg/kg/day. Fifteen (30%), however did not achieve a negative iron balance despite maximally permissible doses.
PMCID: PMC3715972  PMID: 23878481
Deferasirox; serum ferritin; thalassemia major
13.  Hydroxyurea Could Be a Good Clinically Relevant Iron Chelator 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82928.
Our previous study showed a reduction in serum ferritin of β-thalassemia patients on hydroxyurea therapy. Here we aimed to evaluate the efficacy of hydroxyurea alone and in combination with most widely used iron chelators like deferiprone and deferasirox for reducing iron from experimentally iron overloaded mice. 70 BALB/c mice received intraperitonial injections of iron-sucrose. The mice were then divided into 8 groups and were orally given hydroxyurea, deferiprone or deferasirox alone and their combinations for 4 months. CBC, serum-ferritin, TBARS, sTfr and hepcidin were evaluated before and after iron overload and subsequently after 4 months of drug therapy. All animals were then killed. Iron staining of the heart and liver tissue was done using Perl’s Prussian Blue stain. Dry weight of iron in the heart and liver was determined by atomic absorption spectrometry. Increased serum-ferritin, TBARS, hepcidin and dry weight of iron in the liver and heart showed a significant reduction in groups treated with iron chelators with maximum reduction in the group treated with a combination of deferiprone, deferasirox and hydroxyurea. Thus hydroxyurea proves its role in reducing iron from iron overloaded mice. The iron chelating effect of these drugs can also be increased if given in combination.
PMCID: PMC3857323  PMID: 24349400
14.  Efficacy and safety of deferasirox, an oral iron chelator, in heavily iron-overloaded patients with β-thalassaemia: the ESCALATOR study 
European Journal of Haematology  2009;82(6):458-465.
Many patients with transfusional iron overload are at risk for progressive organ dysfunction and early death and poor compliance with older chelation therapies is believed to be a major contributing factor. Phase II/III studies have shown that oral deferasirox 20–30 mg/kg/d reduces iron burden, depending on transfusional iron intake.
The prospective, open-label, 1-yr ESCALATOR study in the Middle East was designed to evaluate once-daily deferasirox in patients ≥2 yr with β-thalassaemia major and iron overload who were previously chelated with deferoxamine and/or deferiprone. Most patients began treatment with deferasirox 20 mg/kg/d; doses were adjusted in response to markers of over- or under-chelation. The primary endpoint was treatment success, defined as a reduction in liver iron concentration (LIC) of ≥3 mg Fe/g dry weight (dw) if baseline LIC was ≥10 mg Fe/g dw, or final LIC of 1–7 mg Fe/g dw for patients with baseline LIC of 2 to <10 mg Fe/g dw.
Overall, 233/237 enrolled patients completed 1 yr’s treatment. Mean baseline LIC was 18.0 ± 9.1 mg Fe/g dw, while median serum ferritin was 3356 ng/mL. After 1 yr’s deferasirox treatment, the intent-to-treat population experienced a significant treatment success rate of 57.0% (P = 0.016) and a mean reduction in LIC of 3.4 mg Fe/g dw. Changes in serum ferritin appeared to parallel dose increases at around 24 wk. Most patients (78.1%) underwent dose increases above 20 mg/kg/d, primarily to 30 mg/kg/d. Drug-related adverse events were mostly mild to moderate and resolved without discontinuing treatment.
The results of the ESCALATOR study in primarily heavily iron-overloaded patients confirm previous observations in patients with β-thalassaemia, highlighting the importance of timely deferasirox dose adjustments based on serum ferritin levels and transfusional iron intake to ensure patients achieve their therapeutic goal of maintenance or reduction in iron burden.
PMCID: PMC2730551  PMID: 19187278
iron chelation; deferasirox; β-thalassaemia; transfusional iron overload
15.  Comparison of twice-daily vs once-daily deferasirox dosing in a gerbil model of iron cardiomyopathy 
Experimental hematology  2007;35(7):1069-1073.
Despite the availability of deferoxamine chelation therapy for more than 20 years, iron cardiomyopathy remains the leading cause of death in thalassemia major patients. Effective chelation of cardiac iron is difficult; cardiac iron stores respond more slowly to chelation therapy and require a constant gradient of labile iron species between serum and myocytes. We have previously demonstrated the efficacy of once-daily deferasirox in removing previously stored cardiac iron in the gerbil, but changes in cardiac iron were relatively modest compared with hepatic iron. We postulated that daily divided dosing, by sustaining a longer labile iron gradient from myocytes to serum, would produce better cardiac iron chelation than a comparable daily dose.
Twenty-four 8- to 10-week-old female gerbils underwent iron dextran—loading for 10 weeks, followed by a 1-week iron equilibration period. Animals were divided into three treatment groups of eight animals each and were treated with deferasirox 100 mg/kg/day as a single dose, deferasirox 100 mg/kg/day daily divided dose, or sham chelation for a total of 12 weeks. Following euthanasia, organs were harvested for quantitative iron and tissue histology.
Hepatic and cardiac iron contents were not statistically different between the daily single-dose and daily divided-dose groups. However, the ratio of cardiac to hepatic iron content was lower in the divided-dose group (0.78% vs 1.11%, p = 0.0007).
Daily divided dosing of deferasirox changes the relative cardiac and liver iron chelation profile compared with daily single dosing, trading improvements in cardiac iron elimination for less-effective hepatic chelation.
PMCID: PMC2892931  PMID: 17588475
16.  Therapeutic Value of Combined Therapy with Deferasirox and Silymarin on Iron Overload in Children with Beta Thalassemia 
Beta thalassemia is an inherited hemoglobin disorder resulting in a severe, chronic anemia requiring life-long blood transfusion that induces iron overload. Silymarin is a flavonoid complex isolated from Silybin marianum with a strong antioxidant activity, inducing an hepatoprotective action, and probably, a protective effect on iron overload. The aim of this work was to determine the silymarin value in improving iron chelation in thalassemic patients with iron overload treated with Deferasirox.
Patients and Methods
This study was conducted on 40 children with beta thalassemia major under follow-up at Hematology Unit, Pediatric Department, Tanta University Hospital with serum ferritin level more than 1000 ng/ml and was divided into two groups. Group IA: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and silymarin for 6 months. Group IB: Received oral Deferasirox (Exjade) and placebo for 6 months and 20 healthy children serving as a control group in the period between April 2011 and August 2012 and was performed after approval from research ethical committee center in Tanta University Hospital and obtaining an informed written parental consent from all participants in this study.
Serum ferritin levels were markedly decreased in group IA cases compared with group IB (P= 0.001).
From this study we concluded that, silymarin in combination with Exjade can be safely used in the treatment of iron-loaded thalassemic patients as it showed good iron chelation with no sign of toxicity.
We recommend extensive multicenter studies in a large number of patients with longer duration of follow-up and more advanced techniques of assessment of iron status in order to clarify the exact role of silymarin in reducing iron overload in children with beta thalassemia.
PMCID: PMC3867224  PMID: 24363880
17.  Deferasirox: appraisal of safety and efficacy in long-term therapy 
Journal of Blood Medicine  2013;4:101-110.
Deferasirox is a once-daily, oral iron chelator that is widely used in the management of patients with transfusional hemosiderosis. Several Phase II trials along with their respective extension studies as well as a Phase III trial have established the efficacy and safety of this novel agent in transfusion-dependent patients with β-thalassemia, sickle-cell disease and bone marrow-failure syndromes, including myelodysplastic syndrome and aplastic anemia. Data from various clinical trials show that a deferasirox dose of 20 mg/kg/day stabilizes serum ferritin levels and liver iron concentration, while a dose of 30–40 mg/kg/day reduces these parameters and achieves negative iron balance in red cell transfusion-dependent patients with iron overload. Across various pivotal clinical trials, deferasirox was well tolerated, with the most common adverse events being gastrointestinal disturbances, skin rash, nonprogressive increases in serum creatinine, and elevations in liver enzyme levels. Longer-term extension studies have also confirmed the efficacy and safety of deferasirox. However, it is essential that patients on deferasirox therapy are monitored regularly to ensure timely management for any adverse events that may occur with long-term therapy.
PMCID: PMC3743529  PMID: 23966805
deferasirox; iron overload; thalassemia; sickle-cell disease; myelodysplastic syndrome
18.  Transfusion-dependent low-risk myelodysplastic patients receiving deferasirox: Long-term follow-up 
Oncology Letters  2013;6(6):1774-1778.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDSs) are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis that results in peripheral cytopenias. Anemia is the most common symptom of MDS and the majority of patients become transfusion-dependent with the risk of iron overload, which may lead to cardiac, hepatic and endocrine complications. Deferasirox is an orally available iron chelator administered once-daily in transfusion-dependent patients with various chronic anemias. Its efficacy has been established in controlled clinical trials. In the present study, we describe our experience with 55 consecutive MDS patients [International Prognostic Scoring System risk score of low (n=32) or intermediate-1 (n=23)] treated with deferasirox in a routine clinical setting following Consensus Guidelines on Iron Chelation Therapy. According to WHO classifications, patients had refractory anemia (n=30), refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (n=16), refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia (n=8) or refractory cytopenia with multilineage dysplasia and ringed sideroblasts (n=1). The median monthly transfusion requirement at baseline was 3 units. Patients received a starting dosage of 10 mg/kg/day, subsequently titrated according to serum ferritin (SF) levels which were measured monthly. Safety assessment included monitoring of liver and renal parameters and recording adverse events (AE) during treatment. At the baseline, the mean ± SD SF level was 2,362±172 ng/ml and after 24 months, the mean ± SD decrease in SF was 1,679±209 ng/ml. Sixteen patients had sustained hematological improvement meeting International Working Group 2006 criteria. One patient became transfusion-independent. No severe AE were reported. In conclusion, deferasirox therapy was effective and safe in reducing transfusional iron overload and it reduces transfusion requirement in a subset of patients.
PMCID: PMC3834329  PMID: 24260074
myelodysplastic syndromes; transfusion dependence; iron overload; chelation; deferasirox; erythroid response
19.  A boronate prochelator built on a triazole framework for peroxide-triggered tridentate metal binding 
Inorganica chimica acta  2012;393:294-303.
Iron chelating agents have the potential to minimize damage associated with oxidative stress in a range of diseases; however, this potential is countered by risks of indiscriminant metal binding or iron depletion in conditions not associated with systemic iron overload. Deferasirox is a chelator used clinically for iron overload, but also is cytotoxic to cells in culture. In order to test whether a prodrug version of deferasirox could minimize its cytotoxicity but retain its protective properties against iron-induced oxidative damage, we synthesized a prochelator that contains a self-immolative boronic ester masking group that is removed upon exposure to hydrogen peroxide to release the bis-hydroxyphenyltriazole ligand deferasirox. We present here the synthesis and characterization of this triazole-based, self-immolative prochelator: TIP (4-(5-(2-((4-boronobenzyl)oxy)phenyl)-3-(2-hydroxyphenyl)-1H-1,2,4-triazol-1-yl)benzoic acid). TIP does not coordinate to Fe3+ and shows only weak affinity for Cu2+ or Zn2+, in stark contrast to deferasirox, which avidly binds all three metal ions. TIP converts efficiently in vitro upon reaction with hydrogen peroxide to deferasirox. In cell culture, TIP protects retinal pigment epithelial cells from death induced by hydrogen peroxide; however, TIP itself is more cytotoxic than deferasirox in unstressed cells. These results imply that the cytotoxicity of deferasirox may not derive exclusively from its iron withholding properties.
PMCID: PMC3579658  PMID: 23439614
Chelation therapy; Iron; Oxidative stress; Fenton chemistry; Reactive oxygen species; Prodrug
20.  Hepatic but not brain iron is rapidly chelated by deferasirox in aceruloplasminemia due to a novel gene mutation 
Journal of Hepatology  2010;53(6):1101-1107.
Background & Aims
Aceruloplasminemia is a rare autosomal recessive neurodegenerative disease associated with brain and liver iron accumulation which typically presents with movement disorders, retinal degeneration, and diabetes mellitus. Ceruloplasmin is a multi-copper ferroxidase that is secreted into plasma and facilitates cellular iron export and iron binding to transferrin.
A novel homozygous ceruloplasmin gene mutation, c.2554+1G>T, was identified as the cause of aceruloplasminemia in three affected siblings. Two siblings presented with movement disorders and diabetes. Complementary DNA sequencing showed that this mutation causes skipping of exon 14 and deletion of amino acids 809–852 while preserving the open reading frame. Western blotting of liver extracts and sera of affected patients showed retention of the abnormal protein in the liver. Aceruloplasminemia was associated with severe brain and liver iron overload, where hepatic mRNA expression of the iron hormone hepcidin was increased, corresponding to the degree of iron overload. Hepatic iron concentration normalized after 3 and 5 months of iron chelation therapy with deferasirox, which was also associated with reduced insulin demands. During short term treatment there was no clinical or imaging evidence for significant effects on brain iron overload.
Aceruloplasminemia can show an incomplete clinical penetrance but is invariably associated with iron accumulation in the liver and in the brain. Iron accumulation in aceruloplasminemia is a result of defective cellular iron export, where hepcidin regulation is appropriate for the degree of iron overload. Iron chelation with deferasirox was effective in mobilizing hepatic iron but has no effect on brain iron.
PMCID: PMC2987498  PMID: 20801540
ACP, aceruloplasmin; CP, ceruloplasmin; GPI, glycosylphosphatidylinositol; PCR, polymerase chain reaction; RT-PCR, reverse transcription PCR; MRI, magnetic resonance imaging; NAFLD, non alcoholic fatty liver disease; DMS, dysmetabolic siderosis; Bp, basepairs; Metabolic liver disease; Iron chelation; Iron overload; Fibrosis; Neurodegeneration
21.  Korean Guideline for Iron Chelation Therapy in Transfusion-Induced Iron Overload 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2013;28(11):1563-1572.
Many Korean patients with transfusion-induced iron overload experience serious clinical sequelae, including organ damage, and require lifelong chelation therapy. However, due to a lack of compliance and/or unavailability of an appropriate chelator, most patients have not been treated effectively. Deferasirox (DFX), a once-daily oral iron chelator for both adult and pediatric patients with transfusion-induced iron overload, is now available in Korea. The effectiveness of deferasirox in reducing or maintaining body iron has been demonstrated in many studies of patients with a variety of transfusion-induced anemias such as myelodysplastic syndromes, aplastic anemia, and other chronic anemias. The recommended initial daily dose of DFX is 20 mg/kg body weight, taken on an empty stomach at least 30 min before food and serum ferritin levels should be maintained below 1000 ng/mL. To optimize the management of transfusion-induced iron overload, the Korean Society of Hematology Aplastic Anemia Working Party (KSHAAWP) reviewed the general consensus on iron overload and the Korean data on the clinical benefits of iron chelation therapy, and developed a Korean guideline for the treatment of iron overload.
PMCID: PMC3835496  PMID: 24265517
Korean Guideline; Iron Overload; Deferasirox
22.  Effects of ginsenoside Rh2 on growth and migration of pancreatic cancer cells 
AIM: To investigate the effects of ginsenoside Rh2 on the human pancreatic cancer cell line Bxpc-3.
METHODS: The human pancreatic cancer cell line Bxpc-3 was cultured in vitro and treated with or without ginsenoside Rh2. Growth rates for Bxpc-3 cells were assessed by methyl thiazolyl tetrazolium (MTT) and colony formation assays. Cell cycle changes were analyzed by flow cytometry. Apoptosis was measured by flow cytometry and Hoechst 33258 fluorescence staining. A scratch assay and a Matrigel invasion assay were used to detect cell migration and invasion. Expression of Bax, Bcl-2, survivin, cyclin D1, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, MMP-9, cleaved caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9 mRNA were determined by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Bax, Bcl-2, survivin, cyclin D1, cleaved caspase-3, caspase-8 and caspase-9 protein levels were examined by western blotting. Expression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 proteins in culture supernatants were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
RESULTS: Rh2 significantly inhibited Bxpc-3 cell proliferation in a dose- and time-dependent manner, as evaluated by the MTT (P < 0.05) and colony formation assays (P < 0.05). Compared to the control group, Rh2 significantly increased the percentage of Bxpc-3 cells in the G0/G1 phase from 43.32% ± 2.17% to 71.32% ± 1.16%, which was accompanied by a decrease in S phase (from 50.86% ± 1.29% to 28.48% ± 1.18%) and G2/M phase (from 5.81% ± 1.19% to 0.20% ± 0.05%) in a dose-dependent manner (P < 0.05), suggesting that Rh2 arrested cell cycle progression at the G0/G1 phase, as measured by flow cytometry. Compared to the control group, cells treated with Rh2 showed significantly higher apoptosis ratios in a dose-dependent manner (percentage of early apoptotic cells: from 5.29% ± 2.28% to 38.90% ± 3.42% (F = 56.20, P < 0.05); percentage of late apoptotic cells: from 4.58% ± 1.42% to 36.32% ± 2.73% (F = 86.70, P < 0.05). Rh2 inhibited Bxpc-3 cell migration and invasion, as detected by scratch wound healing assay and Matrigel invasion assay [percentages of scratch wound healing for 12 h, 24 h and 48 h (control vs experimental group): 37.3% ± 4.8% vs 18.30% ± 1.65%, 58.7% ± 3.5% vs 38.00% ± 4.09% and 93.83% ± 4.65% vs 65.50% ± 4.09%, respectively; t = 6.489, t = 6.656 and t = 7.926, respectively, P < 0.05; the number of cells invading at various concentrations (0 μmol/L, 35 μmol/L, 45 μmol/L and 55 μmol/L): 81.10 ± 9.55, 46.40 ± 6.95, 24.70 ± 6.88 and 8.70 ± 3.34, respectively (F = 502.713, P < 0.05)]. RT-PCR, western blotting or ELISA showed that mRNA and protein expression of Bax, cleaved caspase-3 and caspase-9 were upregulated (P < 0.05), while mRNA and protein expression of Bcl-2, survivin, cyclin D1, MMP-2 and MMP-9 were downregulated (P < 0.05).
CONCLUSION: Ginsenoside Rh2 inhibits proliferation, migration and invasion and induces apoptosis of the human pancreatic cancer cell line Bxpc-3.
PMCID: PMC3602475  PMID: 23538603
Ginsenoside Rh2; Human pancreatic cancer Bxpc-3 cell; Proliferation; Apoptosis; Migration
23.  13-Methyltetradecanoic Acid Exhibits Anti-Tumor Activity on T-Cell Lymphomas In Vitro and In Vivo by Down-Regulating p-AKT and Activating Caspase-3 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65308.
13-Methyltetradecanoic acid (13-MTD), a saturated branched-chain fatty acid purified from soy fermentation products, induces apoptosis in human cancer cells. We investigated the inhibitory effects and mechanism of action of 13-MTD on T-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (T-NHL) cell lines both in vitro and in vivo. Growth inhibition in response to 13-MTD was evaluated by the cell counting kit-8 (CCK-8) assay in three T-NHL cell lines (Jurkat, Hut78, EL4 cells). Flow cytometry analyses were used to monitor the cell cycle and apoptosis. Proteins involved in 13-MTD-induced apoptosis were examined in Jurkat cells by western blotting. We found that 13-MTD inhibited proliferation and induced the apoptosis of T-NHL cell lines. 13-MTD treatment also induced a concentration-dependent arrest of Jurkat cells in the G1-phase. During 13-MTD-induced apoptosis in Jurkat cells, the cleavage of caspase-3 and poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP, a caspase enzymolysis product) were detected after incubation for 2 h, and increased after extending the incubation time. However, there was no change in the expression of Bcl-2 or c-myc proteins. The appearance of apoptotic Jurkat cells was accompanied by the inhibition of AKT and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) phosphorylation. In addition, 13-MTD could also effectively inhibit the growth of T-NHL tumors in vivo in a xenograft model. The tumor inhibition rate in the experimental group was 40%. These data indicate that 13-MTD inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis through the down-regulation of AKT phosphorylation followed by caspase activation, which may provide a new approach for treating T-cell lymphomas.
PMCID: PMC3676434  PMID: 23762338
24.  A Phase 1/2, Dose-Escalation Trial of Deferasirox for the Treatment of Iron Overload in HFE-Related Hereditary Hemochromatosis 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2010;52(5):1671-1679.
Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is characterized by increased intestinal iron absorption that may result in iron overload. Although phlebotomy is widely practiced, it is poorly tolerated or contraindicated in patients with anemias, severe heart disease, or poor venous access, and compliance can vary. The once-daily, oral iron chelator, deferasirox (Exjade) may provide an alternative treatment option. Patients with HH carrying the HFE gene who were homozygous for the Cys282Tyr mutation, serum ferritin levels of 300-2000 ng/mL, transferrin saturation ≥45%, and no known history of cirrhosis were enrolled in this dose-escalation study to characterize the safety and efficacy of deferasirox, comprising a core and an extension phase (each 24 weeks). Forty-nine patients were enrolled and received starting deferasirox doses of 5 (n = 11), 10 (n = 15), or 15 (n = 23) mg/kg/day. Adverse events were generally dose-dependent, the most common being diarrhea, headache, and nausea (n = 18, n = 10, and n = 8 in the core and n = 1, n = 1, and n = 0 in the extension, respectively). More patients in the 15 mg/kg/day than in the 5 or 10 mg/kg/day cohorts experienced increases in alanine aminotransferase and serum creatinine levels during the 48-week treatment period; six patients had alanine aminotransferase >3× baseline and greater than the upper limit of normal range, and eight patients had serum creatinine >33% above baseline and greater than upper limit of normal on two consecutive occasions. After receiving deferasirox for 48 weeks, median serum ferritin levels decreased by 63.5%, 74.8%, and 74.1% in the 5, 10, and 15 mg/kg/day cohorts, respectively. In all cohorts, median serum ferritin decreased to <250 ng/mL. Conclusion: Deferasirox doses of 5, 10, and 15 mg/kg/day can reduce iron burden in patients with HH. Based on the safety and efficacy results, starting deferasirox at 10 mg/kg/day appears to be most appropriate for further study in this patient population. (Hepatology 2010)
PMCID: PMC3034044  PMID: 20814896
25.  Approaching low liver iron burden in chelated patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia: the safety profile of deferasirox 
European Journal of Haematology  2014;92(6):521-526.
Patients with non-transfusion-dependent thalassemia (NTDT) often develop iron overload and related complications, and may require iron chelation. However, the risk of over-chelation emerges as patients reach low, near-normal body iron levels and dose adjustments may be needed. In the THALASSA study, the threshold for chelation interruption was LIC <3 mg Fe/g dw (LIC<3); 24 patients receiving deferasirox for up to 2 yr reached this target. A post hoc analysis was performed to characterize the safety profile of deferasirox as these patients approached LIC<3.
THALASSA was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of two deferasirox regimens (5 and 10 mg/kg/d) versus placebo in patients with NTDT. Patients randomized to deferasirox or placebo in the core could enter a 1-yr extension, with all patients receiving deferasirox (extension starting doses based on LIC at end-of-core and prior chelation response). The deferasirox safety profile was assessed between baseline and 6 months before reaching LIC<3 (Period 1), and the 6 months immediately before achieving LIC<3 (Period 2).
Mean ± SD deferasirox treatment duration up to reaching LIC<3 was 476 ± 207 d, and deferasirox dose was 9.7 ± 3.0 mg/kg/d. The exposure-adjusted AE incidence regardless of causality was similar in periods 1 (1.026) and 2 (1.012). There were no clinically relevant differences in renal and hepatic laboratory parameters measured close to the time of LIC<3 compared with measurements near the previous LIC assessment.
The deferasirox safety profile remained consistent as patients approached the chelation interruption target, indicating that, with appropriate monitoring and dose adjustments in relation to iron load, low iron burdens may be reached with deferasirox with minimal risk of over-chelation.
PMCID: PMC4232858  PMID: 24460655
iron chelation; iron overload; thalassemia

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