Indexed on: 14 Jul '06Published on: 14 Jul '06Published in: Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) has become a model in research and management among malignant disorders. Since the discovery of the presence of a unique and constant chromosomal abnormality slightly more than 40 years ago, substantial progress has been made in the understanding of the biology of the disease. This progress has translated into significant improvement in the longterm prognosis of patients with this disease. This change came first with the use of stem cell transplantation and interferon alfa, but recently it has opened the era of molecularly targeted therapies. Imatinib, a potent and selective tyrosine kinase inhibitor, may be the best example of our attempts to identify molecular abnormalities and develop drugs directed specifically at them. Furthermore, the understanding of at least some of the mechanisms of resistance to imatinib has led to rapid development of new agents that may overcome this resistance. The outlook today for patients with CML is much brighter than just a few years ago. It is our hope that this fascinating journey in CML can be replicated in other malignancies. In this article, we review our current understanding of this disease.