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Blueprint for next generation of chronic myeloid leukemia treatment
Date:8/20/2014

SALT LAKE CITY Researchers at Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI) at the University of Utah have identified and characterized mutated forms of the gene that encodes BCR-ABL, the unregulated enzyme driving the blood cancer chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 6,000 new cases of CML will be diagnosed in 2014.

Drugs already in use, called tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs), target BCR-ABL and are effective at controlling the disease. They do not cure CML but control it in a way that allows patients to get back to normal life and a normal expected lifespan. Before the advent of TKIs, the five-year survival rate for CML was 30% at best; now that number is above 95%. However, 20-30% of patients with CML become resistant to one or more of the TKIs.

Most cases of CML resistance result from a single mutation in BCR-ABL, and drugs to control resistance to TKI treatment caused by various single mutations have already been discovered. But BCR-ABL compound mutants that contain two mutations in the same molecule render some or all of the available TKIs ineffective.

The research team focused on BCR-ABL compound mutants observed in patients and tested them against all approved TKIs, creating a dataset that can potentially help clinicians decide which drug will be most effective for each mutation combination. They found that none of the TKIs are effective for some compound mutations, indicating the need for further research to accommodate the growing population of CML patients. The results were published online Aug. 14 in the journal Cancer Cell.

"Fortunately, the problems we are studying affect a minority of CML patients, but still this leaves some patients with no good treatment option at all," said Thomas O'Hare, PhD, an HCI investigator and co-senior author of the study. He is also a research associate professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Hematologic Malignancies. "Our g
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Contact: Linda Aagard
801-587-7639
University of Utah Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert  

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