Biology of Chronic Myeloid Leukemia and Possible Therapeutic Approaches to Imatinib-Resistant Disease



Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a stem cell disorder caused by a constitutively activated tyrosine kinase, the Bcr-Abl oncoprotein. An inhibitor of this tyrosine kinase, imatinib mesylate, is rapidly becoming the first-line therapy for CML. However, the development of resistance to this drug is a frequent setback, particularly in patients in advanced phases of the disease. Several mechanisms of resistance have been described, the most frequent of which are amplification and/or mutations of the BCR-ABL gene. To overcome resistance, several approaches have been studied in vitro and in vivo. They include dose escalation of imatinib, combination of imatinib with chemotherapeutic drugs, alternative Bcr-Abl inhibitors, inhibitors of kinases downstream of Bcr-Abl, farnesyl and geranylgeranyl transferase inhibitors, histone deacetylase, proteasome and cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitors, arsenic trioxide, hypomethylating agents, troxacitabine, targeting Bcr-Abl messenger RNA, and immunomodulatory strategies. It is important to understand that these approaches differ in efficiency, which is often dependent on the mechanisms of resistance. Further investigations into the molecular mechanisms of disease and how to specifically target the abnormal processes will guide the design of new treatment modalities in future clinical trials.

Key words

Chronic myeloid leukemia Bcr-Abl Imatinib mesylate Drug resistance Kinase inhibitors 

Copyright information

© The Japanese Society of Hematology 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HaematologyImperial College London, Hammersmith HospitalLondonUnited Kingdom

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