Patients with resistance to imatinib, the standard treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), could be identified through a new way, claim scientists in Japan.
Results are published in Clinical Cancer Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Imatinib, currently sold as Gleevec by Novartis, revolutionized the treatment of leukemia when it was approved in 2001. Yet imatinib comes with its own set of problems, chiefly resistance. Although resistance is relatively rare, occurring among 2 percent and 10 percent depending on the definition, it can cause unwanted problems both biologically and psychologically.
New drugs under development for the treatment of CML often tout their ability to overcome imatinib resistance, but determining who will develop resistance remains a challenge.
At the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Yusuke Ohba, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor, and colleagues tested the feasibility of a fluorescence resonance energy transfer biosensor in measuring the activity of leukemia cells.
"Using this test, we are now able to identify and predict the most suitable treatment option for individual chronic myeloid leukemia patients," said Ohba. "This technique is both sensitive and practical to use; it is especially useful for patients who are in relapse, a case in which the clinician's important decision regarding the next step in treatment must be made quickly and accurately."