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How Imatinib (Gleevec) Transformed Leukemia Treatment and Cancer Research


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Title: How Imatinib (Gleevec) Transformed Leukemia Treatment and Cancer Research

How Imatinib (Gleevec) Transformed Leukemia
Treatment and Cancer Research
Gleevec (Imatinib) was developed with primarily
with the help of researches conducted by National
Cancer Institute (NCI), and Imatinib was one of
the discoveries they made. This Drug has
drastically improved the outcomes of patients who
were suffering from Blood Cancer primarily
Chronic Myelogenous Leukaemia. And due to the
discoveries made by NCI that lead to Imatinib,
they helped to establish a Targeted Therapy which
had revolutionised the field of Cancer
Research.   Imatinib / Gleevec cost information
Genetic Alterations by Cancer? How genes can be
influenced by cancer had a very limited
understanding amongst Scientist and Researchers
in 1950s.   A researcher at the University of
Pennsylvania quoted that in the 1950s,
researchers and scientist didnt think that
genetic mutations can be a cause for
tumours. Although a very few of the researchers
who believed that generic mutations can cause
Cancer were limited to lack of evidence to prove
their hypothesis.
During that time the patients suffering from the
chronic myelogenous leukaemia were basically
handed a death sentence because there wasnt any
effective treatment available. So, Dr. Nowell,
a researcher at University of Pennsylvania, spent
all of his days peering into microscope analysing
cancer cells taken from chronic myelogenous
leukemia patients. Dr. Nowell believed that
cancer can be caused by genetic changes, and in
order to proof his hypothesis started researching
on chromosomes of leukemia cells.
And during his research on chromosomes of
leukemia cells, he collaborated with Dr. David
Hungerford, graduate student at Fox Chace Cancer
Centre in Philadelphia, who was studying
chromosome for his graduate thesis.
Discovery of the Philadelphia Chromosome in
Leukemia In the year 1960, both Dr. Nowell and
Hungerford started examining cancer cells of
patients suffering from CML. And they found
something very strange that there was one very
abnormally short chromosome. During that time,
they had no clue how this was possible.
So out of curiosity they examined more leukemia
cells from more people suffering from CML in
order to verify whether small chromosome is a
common feature amongst patients? And in the
process, they found out that there were 7 more
patients who suffered from the same condition of
abnormal chromosome.
And this tiny abnormality in chromosome, was
later name as Philadelphia Chromosome. After
this discovery, further researches into this, led
to conclusion that Philadelphia chromosome was
present in 95 of patients suffering from CML.
And with the technological development in the
field of Cancer Research, researchers realized
that Philadelphia chromosome is formed when 2
chromosomes break and both chromosome pieces
swaps their place.
A few years later, Dr. Nora Heisterkamp and her
colleagues discovered that when two genes that
are normally separated get fused together,
leading to formation of Philadelphia chromosome.
And this hybrid (fusion gene) is called BCR-ABL.
And later Dr. Owen Witte and his colleagues
proved that CML was caused by BCR-ABL formation
in blood cells. And with combined efforts of all
the above researchers during the course of time
had proven that genetic alternation/mutation can
be a cause for cancer.
Imatinib Mesylate A Therapy Targeted Against
With the hope of finding a treatment for CML that
would leave healthy cells intact and kill the
cancer cells, Brian Druker M.D. hypothesized
with drug that could block BCR-ABL. And the
reason for hypothesis was that as healthy cells
dont have BCR-ABL, they should not be
affected. Both Nicholas Lydon, M.D. and Brian
Druker M.D. did a long extensive search for such
a compound that could prove Drukers hypothesis.
Remarkably, both recognized a compound that was
incredibly good at killing CML cells and letting
healthy cells remain intact. This compound was
referred to as STI-571 and later renamed to
imatinib (Gleevec). In 1998, Dr. Druker and his
colleagues started testing Imatinib in Phase 1 of
clinical trials. And the results were
astonishing, as the drug caused cancer to
disappear in majority of the patients suffering
from CML (early or chronic stage). And 98
patients who were tested in clinical trials, were
still in remission even after years.
During the early years of this drug, for people
Imatinib was too good to be true, until they saw
people who were once bed-ridden are now going to
for hikes, dancing, cycling and doing yoga stated
Dr.Druker during his interview with The New York
Times in 2009.   And subsequent trials of
Imatinib, found similar results. With the use of
Imatinib, quality of life was improved and there
were fewer side effects as compared to standard
treatments for CML.
Imatinib was FDA approved in 2001 for treating
patients suffering from CML that has the
Philadelphia chromosome. Now, in the present
day a person who is suffering from CML that has
Philadelphia chromosome, and is in remission
after 2 years of treatment with Imatinib has the
same life expectancy as someone who doesnt have
With the discovery Imatinib, researchers have
established a group of Drugs that could treat
cancer called Targeted therapies. These
targeted therapies are designed such a way that
they only attacks cancer cells with a specific
genetic mutations or abnormalities.
  • Imatinib / Gleevec side effects
  • Some common Imatinib side effects include
  • Pain in bone and/or muscles cramps
  • Bleeding problems (haemorrhage)
  • Skin rashes
  • Vomiting and/or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Low levels of white and/or red blood cells
  • Fever

Imatinib can be absorbed through the skin and
lungs. Therefore, pregnant women should avoid
handling this medication to prevent harm to the
unborn baby. Imatinib Cost Information The
information provided on the page is meant for the
purpose of being helpful and educational. It
should not be considered as medical
advice.   Gleevec, imatinib, gleevec side
effects, imatinib mesylate, imatinib side
effects, gleevec cost, imatinib cost, imatinib
400 mg, imatinib cml, Gleevec drug, generic
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