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Best Pract Res Clin Haematol. 2003 Sep;16(3):409-17.

FLT3-activating mutations in acute promyelocytic leukaemia: a rationale for risk-adapted therapy with FLT3 inhibitors.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA.


Our understanding of the genetic basis of acute myeloid leukaemias has been enhanced through cloning of recurring chromosomal translocation breakpoints. However, the remarkable observation, more than a decade ago, that all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) induced remission in patients with t(15;17) acute promyelocytic leukaemia (APL) was a driving force in the subsequent cloning and characterization of the PML-RARalpha fusion that is causally implicated in the pathogenesis of this disease. Major improvements in treatment and outcome of APL patients have been made since that time by incorporating ATRA in conventional chemotherapy but 30% of APL patients still succumb to complications of their disease or their therapy. Recent information that the haematopoietic receptor tyrosine kinase FLT3 is mutated in about 30% of APL patients suggests strategies for further improving treatment and outcome in this subset of APL patients using small-molecule inhibitors of FLT3. The role of FLT3 mutations in APL and other AML will be discussed.

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