Meet Dan Hussar
In April 2015, Dan Hussar, a pharmacy professor and grandparent, completed treatment for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) at an academic medical center near his Philadelphia home. He was soon feeling better.
But seven months later, Dan noticed small bumps on his skin—and his worst fear was confi rmed. His leukemia had returned. “It was discouraging; there are so few drugs for AML,” says Dan. Then Dan received good news. His cancer had tested positive for an abnormality in the IDH2 gene— and Dan’s physician knew of an MSK clinical trial studying a new epigenetic therapy targeting it.
Led by MSK oncologist Eytan Stein, MD, the trial was evaluating the drug, enasidenib, for people whose AML had relapsed after initial treatment. Instead of killing cancer cells, enasidenib rehabilitates them to function as normal blood cells. It was developed by a team at MSK.
In January 2016, Dan enrolled in the trial. Very quickly, abnormalities in his bone marrow cleared up, and so did his skin. “I can’t say enough about the caring and courtesy of everyone we met at MSK,” says Dan. In 2017, the FDA approved enasidenib for patients like Dan, allowing them to get treatment closer to home.
Today Dan is in remission. He feels strong, energized, and, although he recently retired from his teaching responsibilities of 52 years, he continues to write and speak on drug therapy and healthcare topics. Dan also visits MSK quarterly because, he says, “There is value not only for me, but for others if I stay in Dr. Stein’s trial.”