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Drug Resist Updat. 2003 Oct;6(5):231-8.

Resistance to imatinib (Glivec): update on clinical mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Adult Oncology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, 44 Binney Street, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


Imatinib mesylate, an orally administered 2-phenylaminopyrimidine derivative that inhibits BCR/ABL tyrosine kinase activity, has shown great promise in the treatment of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This small molecule, tyrosine kinase inhibitor, has also been shown to be effective against metastatic gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) expressing the stem cell factor (SCF) receptor kit. However, the threat of resistance in patients has prompted investigators to uncover the mechanisms whereby malignant cells develop resistance to imatinib, and has also led to the establishment of strategies designed to over-ride imatinib resistance. Here, we provide a comprehensive overview of the effectiveness of imatinib in the treatment of chronic, accelerated and blast crisis-phase CML, Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoid leukemia (ALL) and metastatic GIST. Established mechanisms of resistance to imatinib are discussed, as are novel therapeutic approaches to improving drug responsiveness by reversing development of imatinib resistance in patients.

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