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New Drugs Overcome Gleevec Resistance In Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

New Drugs Overcome Gleevec Resistance In Chronic Myeloid Leukemia

HOUSTON, June 14 — Two drugs are waiting in the wings if Gleevec (imatinib) fails or is too toxic for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Both are safe and active against CML in patients resistant to or intolerant Gleevec, according to reports in the June 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

One of the new drugs — Tasigna (nilotinib) — is a more potent analog of Gleevec, which is the current standard of care for the disease, according to Hagop Kantarjian M.D., of the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center here.

The other — Sprycel (dasatinib) — has a different mechanism of action from either Tasigna or Gleevec, although all three drugs target the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase whose unregulated activity is the hallmark of CML, according to Moshe Talpaz,, M.D., also of M.D. Anderson.

Earlier this month, the FDA's Oncologic Drugs Advisory Committee, on the basis of phase I data, unanimously recommended approval of Sprycel for CML patients who are refractory or intolerant to Gleevec.

The reports of the two phase I clinical studies are of "fundamental importance," according to Brian Druker, M.D., of Oregon Health and Science University Cancer Institute in Portland. Dr. Druker was the driving force in the clinical development of Gleevec.

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