Editors' ChoiceCANCER

A death knell for relapsed leukemia?

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Science  12 Jan 2018:
Vol. 359, Issue 6372, pp. 173-174
DOI: 10.1126/science.359.6372.173-b

A subset of patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) experience partial or even complete remissions after treatment with conventional chemotherapeutic drugs. Almost invariably, however, the disease returns and is often fatal. Relapse has been attributed to the expansion of preexisting leukemic clones that are resistant to therapy. In a preclinical study, Pan et al. investigated whether better efficacy might be achieved by using a class of drugs that work by inducing apoptotic cell death. They found that mice with drug-resistant AML showed dramatically extended survival after treatment with a combination of two drugs that promote apoptosis by distinct mechanisms. This combination therapy of venetoclax (a Bcl-2 inhibitor) and idasanutlin (a p53 activator) is now in clinical trials for relapsed AML.

Cancer Cell 32, 748 (2017).

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