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Haematologica. 2018 Nov;103(11):1825-1834. doi: 10.3324/haematol.2018.194522. Epub 2018 Jun 28.

Reduced tyrosine kinase inhibitor dose is predicted to be as effective as standard dose in chronic myeloid leukemia: a simulation study based on phase III trial data.

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Instituto de Matemática e Computação, Universidade Federal de Itajubá, Brazil.
Institute for Medical Informatics and Biometry, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.
National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), Partner Site Dresden, Germany.
Institute for Medical Informatics and Biometry, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany


Continuing tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI)-mediated targeting of the BCR-ABL1 oncoprotein is the standard therapy for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and allows for a sustained disease control in the majority of patients. While therapy cessation for patients appeared as a safe option for about half of those patients with optimal response, no systematic assessment of long-term TKI dose de-escalation has been made. We use a mathematical model to analyze and consistently describe biphasic treatment responses from TKI-treated patients from two independent clinical phase III trials. Scale estimates reveal that drug efficiency determines the initial response while the long-term behavior is limited by the rare activation of leukemic stem cells. We use this mathematical framework to investigate the influence of different dosing regimens on the treatment outcome. We provide strong evidence to suggest that TKI dose de-escalation (at least 50%) does not lead to a reduction of long-term treatment efficiency for most patients, who have already achieved sustained remission, and maintains the secondary decline of BCR-ABL1 levels. We demonstrate that continuous BCR-ABL1 monitoring provides patient-specific predictions of an optimal reduced dose without decreasing the anti-leukemic effect on residual leukemic stem cells. Our results are consistent with the interim results of the DESTINY trial and provide clinically testable predictions. Our results suggest that dose-halving should be considered as a long-term treatment option for CML patients with good response under continuing maintenance therapy with TKIs. We emphasize the clinical potential of this approach to reduce treatment-related side-effects and treatment costs.

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