Omacetaxine mepesuccinate - A semisynthetic formulation of the natural antitumoral alkaloid homoharringtonine, for chronic myelocytic leukemia and other myeloid malignancies

A. Quintás-Cardama, J. Cortes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

15 Scopus citations


Homoharringtonine (HHT), a natural alkaloid extracted from various Cephalotaxus species, exerts its antitumoral and anti-angiogenic activity through an inhibition of protein synthesis and the promotion of apoptosis. ChemGenex Pharmaceuticals Ltd, in collaboration with Stragen Group, is developing omacetaxine mepesuccinate, a semisynthetic formulation of HHT, as a potential treatment for chronic myelocytic leukemia (CML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and acute myelogenous leukemia (AML). In preclinical studies, omacetaxine mepesuccinate induced apoptosis in leukemia cell lines. Results from phase II clinical trials revealed omacetaxine mepesuccinate to be active in patients with CML that was resistant to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) therapy, including those patients who carry the BCR-ABL1T315I mutation, which is highly insensitive to the TKIs imatinib, nilotinib and dasatinib; the therapeutic was also generally well tolerated. Phase II and III clinical trials are underway to assess the activity of omacetaxine mepesuccinate, either alone or in combination with TKIs or other cytotoxic drugs, in patients with CML that is resistant to TKI therapy. Phase I and II clinical trials for omacetaxine mepesuccinate in the treatment of AML and MDS are also ongoing; intravenous, subcutaneous and oral formulations of the drug are being developed. Omacetaxine mepesuccinate appears to hold potential for the treatment of CML and, in particular, imatinib-resistant CML; the development of alternative formulations of the therapeutic further expands the potential for success in drug development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)356-372
Number of pages17
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2008
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery

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