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Newer Drugs Beat Gleevec in Head-to-Head Trials
Date:6/5/2010

More chronic myeloid leukemia patients responded to Sprycel and Tasigna than Gleevec

SATURDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- Two new drugs, dasatinib (Sprycel) and nilotinib (Tasigna), appear better than imatinib (Gleevec) in treating patients with newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia and should be considered as first-line treatments, two new studies show.

The findings, which should change clinical practice, are to be presented Saturday at the American Society of Clinical Oncology annual meeting in Chicago and were simultaneously published online June 5 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

"Both next-generation inhibitors of BCR-ABL [dasatinib and nilotinib] are superior to Gleevec in treating chronic myeloid leukemia when compared head-to-head after one year of follow-up," said Dr. Charles L. Sawyers, chair of the Human Oncology and Pathogenesis Program at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City and author of an accompanying journal editorial.

"This magnitude of success -- beating a drug like imatinib [Gleevec] that was already pretty great -- is possible because we have a very precise understanding of the drug target BCR-ABL and of the mechanisms of resistance to imatinib," Sawyers added.

Newly diagnosed chronic myeloid leukemia patients should probably now be treated with one of the new drugs instead of imatinib, he noted.

In the first study, a team led by Dr. Hagop Kantarjian, chairman of the leukemia department at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, randomly assigned 519 patients to Sprycel or Gleevec.

After a year, 77 percent of the patients receiving Sprycel had a complete cytogenetic response, compared with 66 percent of the patients receiving Gleevec, the researchers found.

Complete cytogenetic response is the disappearance of all the cancer cells from the bone marrow, Kanta
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