Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Advancements

Chronic myeloid leukemia research focuses on genes and drug therapies

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) The outlook for people with chronic myeloid leukemia has improved by leaps and bounds in recent years. A number of medications are now keeping the disease under wraps.

This article summarizes progress being made on two fronts in the march to find a cure for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). 

"Ask about the latest CML treatments and if they would suit you."


Medical researchers and scientists are examining what makes a person's DNA transform normal bone marrow cells into leukemia cells that grow at a crazy pace, live too long and stop functioning as they should. This research will lead the way to developing new drugs and other therapies to treat CML.

Targeted drugs - old and new

Gleevec (imatinib) revolutionized the treatment of CML. And while it continues to be the gold standard, two other drugs - Sprycel (dasatinib) and Tasigna (nilotinib) seem to work just as well.

These are all tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). Studies are under way to find which is best for someone newly diagnosed with CML. Also under investigation is combining two or more of these drugs to treat the disease.

Stopping treatments

Gleevec is so effective that some patients have what's known as a "complete molecular response" (CMR) - meaning they have no signs of the disease, even with very sensitive testing.

The question has become, can these patients stop taking their medication? Recent studies showed that just under half of patients who had stopped drug therapy were still in CMR 12 months later. When CML did return, Gleevec worked again.

Additional research is needed to determine if patients can safely stop taking medication to treat CML.

If you have chronic myeloid leukemia, you have a number of treatment options. Work with your healthcare team to find the one that's best for you.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
November 21, 2011
Last Updated:
November 8, 2012