Drug for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia : Gleevec(Imatinib) Shown Long-Term Survival Rate

Drug for Chronic Myeloid Leukemia : Gleevec(Imatinib) Shown Long-Term Survival

Leukemia is a broad term covering a spectrum of diseases.Leukemia is cancer of the blood cells, usually the white blood cells. Leukemia cells look different than normal cells and do not function properly. usually white blood cells (leukocytes). It is part of the broad group of diseases called hematological neoplasms.


Leukemia (or leukaemia)is a cancer of the blood or bone marrow characterized by an abnormal proliferation of blood cells, usually white blood cells (leukocytes). It is part of the broad group of diseases called hematological neoplasms.

Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML)is most common for adults, but more men than women are affected. Many different chemotherapeutic plans are available for the treatment of AML. Overall, the strategy is to control bone marrow and systemic (whole-body) disease while offering specific treatment for the central nervous system (CNS), if involved.

The challenge of treating newly diagnosed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) is to determine the best overall strategy to control the disease. General strategies for management include a variety of options:

Leukapheresis, also known as a peripheral blood stem cell transplant, with stem cell cryopreservation (frozen storage) prior to any other treatment.HLA (human leukocyte antigen) typing of all patients under age 60, as well as typing of siblings, parents, and children, if available.Pre-treatment fertility measures (e.g., cryopreservation of semen prior to treatment; completion of a pregnancy prior to treatment) in young patients who have not completed their families.

In general, CML treatment options are divided into two groups: those that do not increase survival and those that do. Chemotherapeutic drugs such as hydroxyurea (Hydrea®) and busulfan (Myleran®) can normalize the blood count for a period of time, but they do not increase survival. They often are used to control blood counts in patients who cannot undergo SCT or who do not respond to interferon therapy because of age or medical considerations.

In addition, specific treatment plans may be used, depending on the type of leukemia that has been diagnosed. Whatever the plan, it is important for the patient to understand the treatment that is being given and the decision-making process behind the choice.

Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG's cancer-fighting drug Gleevec can still help treat chronic myeloid leukemia even after five years of use, a new study showed on Wednesday.
The long-term study found that 89 percent of more than 500 volunteers who started taking the drug -- also known by the generic name imatinib -- for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) beginning around June 2000 remained alive.

That survival rate includes all causes of death, according to the study published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

"If you look at CML-specific deaths, the rate is five percent," said Brian Druker of the Oregon Health & Science University, who led the study.

"That's truly extraordinary when you think back five years ago when survival rates were less than 50 percent for this disease and we told patients they were lucky if they made it five years. Now we're saying it's more like 95 percent they will be alive at five years."

The researchers also found very few patients -- just 17 percent -- developed resistance to the drug over the five-year span.

"The other remarkable feature is the risk of relapse is decreasing over time," Druker told Reuters. "That means to me that long-term survival is very likely."

The drug was the first anti-cancer medicine to be designed based on precise knowledge of how a particular cancer grows. It works by blocking a protein known as tyrosine kinase.

But it isn't effective in all cases, and other companies as well as Novartis have been developing alternatives.

CML is relatively rare. In the United States, it strikes about 4,600 people a year.

The drug has also been approved for other rare forms of leukemia.

In October, Novartis warned Gleevec could, in rare instances, damage the heart. But in the long-term study, drug-related congestive heart failure was seen in only one patient.

The drug has been on the market since 2001.

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