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Best choice for chronic leukemia treatment may change

Newer drug outperforms Gleevec in trial

By
6:03pm, December 8, 2009

NEW ORLEANS — People fighting chronic myeloid leukemia got a double dose of good news at the meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

The drug nilotinib, marketed as Tasigna, proved better than the reigning frontline drug used against CML, a new study finds. “Based on these results, we strongly believe that nilotinib may become the new standard of care in newly diagnosed CML patients,“ says Giuseppe Saglio, a hematologist at the University of Turin in Italy.

Meanwhile, in those CML patients who fail to improve on either of these medications, an old drug abandoned in the last decade now shows promise as a rescue therapy, researchers reported.

Based on the first study, nilotinib may now supersede imatinib, sold as Gleevec, a drug that has led to a sea change in treatment for CML over the past decade (SN: 12/14/02, p. 371).

Before imatinib, the typical CML patient had roughly three years to live, barring a bone marrow

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