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Test targets CML patients resistant to Gleevec

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

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A test developed by a Japanese researcher could one day allow doctors to know which of their chronic myeloid leukemia patients could become resistant to the standard drug used to treat the form of blood cancer.

A number of drugs now being developed are intended for use in patients who are resistant to imatinib, which is marketed in the United States under the brand name Gleevec.

While Gleevec resistance only occurs in from 2 percent to 10 percent of CML patients. When resistance happens, however, doctors have to quickly develop an alternative treatment plan in order to prevent a major relapse.

Until now, however, doctors have not had a way of predicting which CML sufferers are likely to develop Gleevec resistance. As reported in the journal Clinical Cancer Research, Dr. Yusuke Ohba of the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine and colleagues have been studying cultured CML cells with fluorescence resonance energy transfer biosensors. They have been using these bioengineered protein molecules to measure the levels of proteins associated with CML. Using this method, according to Ohba, he has been able to pinpoint potential Gleevec resistance and determine the most effective treatment options.

"This technique is both sensitive and practical to use," Ohba said. "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."

Deciding which drug to switch to once Gleevec resistance arises is the key to finding an alternative therapy, according to Ohba. "If the patient is switched to another drug to which they are also resistant, then the treatment will just be a waste of time and detrimental to the patient's condition."

In an accompanying editorial in Clinical Cancer Research, Yingxiao Wang, an assistant professor in the bioengineering department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, said the study by Ohba and his team is a "pioneer work."

"The entire cancer community is talking about personalized medicine, and key to that is knowing when an individual person will have a unique response," said Wang. "This project is an important step forward."

 

©2010 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC

Source: The Suncoast News
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