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New agents for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

Author(s): Tallman MS

Affiliation(s): Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center, Chicago, IL 60611, USA. m.tallman@northwestwern.edu

Publication date & source: 2006, Best Pract Res Clin Haematol., 19(2):311-20.

Publication type: Review

The heterogeneity of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) has been established by many new insights into the diagnosis, pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, treatment, and prognosis of patients with AML. Morphology remains the foundation for the diagnosis. However, additional diagnostic studies, including immunophenotyping, cytogenetic evaluation, and molecular genetic studies, are necessary to develop treatments because specific subtypes of AML can now be approached with targeted therapy. Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), defined by a single molecular abnormality, is now treated with specific targeted therapy, all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), and this subtype of AML is now highly curable. Currently, a number of agents have been explored in AML, including anti-CD33 antibodies and immunoconjugate drugs, inhibitors of multidrug resistance proteins, farnesyl transferase inhibitors, tyrosine kinase inhibitors, anti-Bcl-2 transcription agents, and inhibitors of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). New alkylating agents, and purine analogs such as Cloretazine and clofarabine, affect DNA and ribonucleoside reductases, respectively. These agents have shown promise in small studies. Large phase III studies will address whether these are effective in inducing complete responses. Combining targeted agents with chemotherapy may improve the response rates. The plan for the future is to find therapeutic strategies that are specific for patients based on the specific biology of the disease. Future studies will investigate combinations of targeted therapies with each other and with chemotherapies to maximize the inhibition of multiple pathways present in AML. Additionally, evaluation of the identified prognostic factors and gene mutations will enable further pathologic classification of patients with AML.

Page last updated: 2007-05-02

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