More About Therapies

In today's world, CML Survivors have a variety of therapies from which to choose.  Prior to the days of Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors (TKIs), treatments varied and included arsenic (many years ago), standard chemotherapy, Interferon, and others.

Here's a bit about STI-571 (Gleevec)

In the mid-1980s, researchers began to experiment with agents that could bind to the specific cancer gene and effectively turn it off.  A young doctor, Brian Druker, was particularly interested in CML and began to seek out agents that might provide a new type of therapy for his patients.  At the time, Ciba Geigy, which later merged to become Novartis, had an agent known as STI-571.  As Dr. Druker studied various compounds and their affect on CML, he noticed that introduction of STI-571 to CML would affectively "turn off" the action of the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase.  He pressed the drug company to delve further into this compound and for some time found them resistant to moving forward.  After a long battle, he finally won them over and began the first human trials in the late 1990s.  The first cohort of patients were literally in hospice situations with little hope for survival.  When the first dosages of Gleevec were administered, within days these same individuals were rising from their hospice beds and resuming their lives.  This was indeed the miracle he had been waiting for all his career.  CML patients began to hear of this revolutionary discovery and began to petition the drug company for open access for anyone living with the disease.  STI-571 was fast tracked through the FDA approval process with record speed and the world of CML changed dramatically.  That drug was later named Gleevec and became the first targeted cancer therapy to reach the market.