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Options increase for CML patients failed by existing drugs
Date:12/21/2012

HOUSTON The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) this month expanded the options for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia and one form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia that carries the Philadelphia chromosome (Ph+ALL). It approved the drug ponatinib (Iclusig), which is effective in a significant number of patients with either disease.

Patients with both leukemias have enjoyed strong responses to imatinib (Gleevec) and second-generation drugs nilotinib (Tasigna) and dasatinib (Sprycel). All work by inhibiting proteins called tyrosine kinases on leukemia cells, in particular the aberrant BCR-ABL protein that causes these diseases.

However, 30-40 percent of CML patients resist imatinib. Nilotinib and dasatinib work for about 40-50 percent of those patients.

"Ponatinib's availability will drastically improve the outcome of most patients with CML and PH+ALL who are resistant or intolerant to prior tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy," said Jorge Cortes, M.D., professor and deputy chair, in The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Leukemia.

"Clinical responses to Iclusig have been observed in patients regardless of their mutation status or disease stage. It's a valuable new treatment option for leukemia patients," Cortes said.

New drugs fill gaps in treatment

Ponatinib is the third drug approved by the FDA for CML and Ph+ALL during the past four months, providing oncologists with a wealth of options. Cortes led all of the clinical trials for the three drugs. The other two are bosutinib (Bosulif) and omacetaxine (Synribo). Cortes and other Leukemia Department faculty also led many of the clinical trials for the three previously approved CML therapies.

"It's important to have as many therapies against cancer as we can, because rarely does one drug or combination succeed for all patients," Cortes said. "These new drugs cover different gaps in treatment, so they can serve our patients in different way
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-516-4855
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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