BACKGROUND: The BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib is effective in Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph-positive) leukemias, but relapse occurs, mainly as a result of the outgrowth of leukemic subclones with imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL mutations. We evaluated dasatinib, a BCR-ABL inhibitor that targets most imatinib-resistant BCR-ABL mutations, in patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) or Ph-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). METHODS: Patients with various phases of CML or with Ph-positive ALL who could not tolerate or were resistant to imatinib were enrolled in a phase 1 dose-escalation study. Dasatinib (15 to 240 mg per day) was administered orally in four-week treatment cycles, once or twice daily. RESULTS: A complete hematologic response was achieved in 37 of 40 patients with chronic-phase CML, and major hematologic responses were seen in 31 of 44 patients with accelerated-phase CML, CML with blast crisis, or Ph-positive ALL. In these two phases, the rates of major cytogenetic response were 45 percent and 25 percent, respectively. Responses were maintained in 95 percent of patients with chronic-phase disease and in 82 percent of patients with accelerated-phase disease, with a median follow-up more than 12 months and 5 months, respectively. Nearly all patients with lymphoid blast crisis and Ph-positive ALL had a relapse within six months. Responses occurred among all BCR-ABL genotypes, with the exception of the T315I mutation, which confers resistance to both dasatinib and imatinib in vitro. Myelosuppression was common but not dose-limiting. CONCLUSIONS: Dasatinib induces hematologic and cytogenetic responses in patients with CML or Ph-positive ALL who cannot tolerate or are resistant to imatinib.
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