MDS World Awareness Day First-ever China MDS Awareness Campaign Held in Tianjin


Tianjin, China, October 25th, 2014-.Today, in view of MDS World Awareness Day, Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. hosted a media workshop at the Institute of Hematology & Blood Diseases Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. The aim of the workshop was to raise public awareness of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). Some of China’s top hematologists attended the workshop and engaged in discussions around standardized diagnosis and innovative treatment options for patients living with MDS.

Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) represents a heterogeneous group of clonal hematopoeitic disorders which are characterized by ineffective hematopoiesis, cytopenias in peripheral blood and the potential for mutation into acute myeloid leukemia (AML). MDS primarily affects senior patients, with a median age range between 65 and 70 years old.

Left untreated, MDS could result in bone marrow failure and complications including infection and hemorrhage. The disease has a significant impact on the everyday lives of patients, and can be life-threatening. However, it is difficult to identify early symptoms of MDS. In China, the general public, patients with MDS and even healthcare providers have limited knowledge of the disease, which prevents patients from receiving early diagnosis and effective treatment. The average onset age of Chinese patients with MDS is around 55 years old, which is significantly different to the average onset age amongst patients in western countries.

“MDS is one of the most common malignant diseases of the hematological system. Through disease education awareness and patients advocacy activities like this, we expect to raise public awareness for MDS and create an environment for standardized diagnosis and treatment,” said Prof. Xiao Zhijian, Deputy Director of the Institute of Hematology & Blood Diseases Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. This year, for the first time, a patient education campaign is being held worldwide on MDS World Awareness Day. It is the first such international campaign, organized by the MDS Foundation, that mainland China has ever participated in. As the Director of a MDS research center in China, Prof. Xiao calls on the public to attach more importance to the disease, which helps provide treatments and assistance for patients with MDS.

Although there is no determined cause of MDS, genetic factors, treatments involving radiotherapy chemotherapy, long-term exposure to industrial chemicals, and smoking are strongly associated with the disease. The indicators of MDS are not easy to immediately identify, and patients typically visit the doctor with symptoms such as anemia, hemorrhage, infection and fatigue, which makes it difficult to properly diagnose and access effective treatment. Due to a lack of early symptoms and unclear direct causes, carrying out standardized testing has become a priority in the diagnosis of MDS. “The diagnosis of the disease is based on cell morphology, so we need to examine a peripheral blood smear to observe abnormalities in the blood cell. The final diagnosis of MDS then requires a bone marrow smear and biopsy test result. In addition, a cytogenetic examination can be used to analyze whether there are genetic chromosome abnormalities related to MDS. The laboratory analysis results provide an important basis for diagnosis and a strategy of treatment for patients.” said Prof. Li Xiao, Director of Department of Hematology, the Sixth People's Hospital Affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University.

Clinical severities of MDS vary with different prognoses among patients, with a wide range of survival rates. “Patients with MDS who are unable to receive effective treatments have around a 30 percent chance of developing acute myelocytic leukemia (AML). Some of these patients may only survive for a few months,” said Prof. Ma Yigai, Director of Department of Hematology, China-Japan Friendship Hospital. “Patients who have been diagnosed with MDS should receive further examinations according to the standard Prognostic Scoring System, where risk assessments are made and appropriate therapy is given. Following advances made in the genome testing of MDS, new genetic testing methods and results are providing important clues for its diagnosis and prognosis. The testing methods are also helping doctors determine therapy options that best suit the patient.”

“In clinical practice, MDS therapy requires high levels of expertise and experience. For example, doctors from the department of hematology will classify patients with MDS into low-, middle- or high-risk. Moreover, according to the natural course of MDS and the prognosis of different patients, comprehensive evaluations are made based on factors like age, physical condition and compliance, which then help make personalized therapy plans for each patient.” said Prof. Du Xin, Director of Department of Hematology, Guangdong General Hospital. The objectives of MDS therapies are also in change and now include delaying the progression of the disease, prolonging overall survival and improving the quality of life among patients.

Based on the risk stratification and individual factors, the treatment options for patients with MDS include supportive care, low-intensity therapy, high-intensity therapy and hypomethylating agents therapy. Supportive care relieves patients’ symptoms through blood transfusions and cell growth factor therapy. Low-intensity therapy stimulates the remaining normal hematopoietic stem cells to improve the efficiency of hematopoiesis of pathological hematopoietic cloning by immunosuppressant. High-intensity therapy consists of stem cell transplantation and chemotherapy. “Currently, hypomethylating agents-based therapy is the internationally recognized principle therapy for patients with a middle-/high-risk of MDS. Hypomethylating agents can effectively extend the time of development to AML, prolong overall survival, and improve the quality of life among patients,” said Prof. Zhu Qi, Director of Department of Hematology, the Ninth People's Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiaotong University.

“We are committed to promoting MDS advocacy and improving diagnostic and treatment outcomes for MDS patients in China. The campaign aims to raise public awareness of MDS and improving patients’ quality of life. We will continue to devote ourselves to developments of new drugs that ensure Chinese patients have access to effective treatment options.” said Jenny Zheng, Vice President of Xian Janssen.

About Xian Janssen

Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd. is one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson. It is one of China’s largest pharmaceutical companies and among the earliest multinational pharmaceutical companies to enter China simultaneous with the opening up of China’s economy.

Since its establishment in 1985, Xian Janssen has been committed to providing Chinese patients with high-quality, innovative products that fulfill unmet medical needs in psychiatry, neurology, oncology, immunology, and gastrointestinal and fungal diseases.

Based on the company’s Credo and spirit of caring, Xian Janssen has been an active corporate citizen, conducting over 50 cooperative projects in the areas of medicine, public health, medical R&D, and corporate social responsibility.

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Xian Janssen Pharmaceutical Ltd.
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