LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- One of the most common drugs used to fight multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, can cause platelet cell levels to decrease. Now, researchers have a way to help those patients by finding a new use for a drug that already exists.
Lizzy Smith learned she had multiple myeloma during a routine blood test in 2012.
"So when a doctor tells you, 'You have cancer,' I couldn't think of anything more dreaded than that," Smith said.
Smith got chemo, stem cell transplants and Bortezomib. It put her disease in remission but depleted her platelet count and her blood's clotting ability.
"I felt like I was fading away, that I was maybe just kind of phasing into death, and I was so fatigued that I didn't really care," Smith said.
Dr. Dean Li, a cardiologist at the University of Utah, School of Medicine, found that in mice, Fasudil kept platelet counts normal. Fasudil is used in other countries for constricted arteries.
"We're not coming up with a new drug to treat the side effect of this cancer drug. We're trying to repurpose known drugs to treat this side effect," Li said.
Smith said Li's findings gave her hope.
"Absolutely. And hope is a very powerful thing. It gives us strength to keep fighting," she said.
Now, Li is searching for an FDA approved compound like Fasudil hoping to get similar results.
Fasudil is in U.S. clinical trials for treating high blood pressure and other health issues.
Since it's already in use, experts think it could get approval for multiple myeloma within a shorter time frame.
Multiple myeloma drug side effects treated w/ existing medication
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