May 1st 2002
Identification of targets in tumor cells vs normal cells (or at least a differential in their expression) is certainly a promising method for approaching the treatment and, indeed, the prevention of cancer. Presently, targeting of patient tumor cells has taken on even greater importance and interest with the discovery of the new agent imatinib mesylate (STI571, Gleevec), which is targeted to a kinase present in chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) cells (p210 BCR-ABL abnormal cells), which is required for CML cells to survive, but is not present in normal leucocytes. The results with this agent targeted to the p210 BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase are indeed spectacular. The agent is of even greater interest in that it also works against some gastrointestinal stromal sarcomas with gain of function mutations in c-kit (CD117). This activity of a targeted agent against a solid tumor increases the interest in targeted therapy to an even greater degree.