Research ArticleCancer

Combined targeting of BCL-2 and BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase eradicates chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells

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Science Translational Medicine  07 Sep 2016:
Vol. 8, Issue 355, pp. 355ra117
DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aag1180

Stemming the regrowth of leukemia

Chronic myeloid leukemia is usually held up as the poster child for targeted therapy, given the success of imatinib and related compounds such as nilotinib in treating the disease. Unfortunately, even these drugs are not perfect because they do not eliminate cancer stem cells. As a result, patients have to remain on treatment indefinitely or else face a high likelihood of relapse. Carter et al. have discovered that the antiapoptotic protein BCL-2 plays a key role in the survival of chronic myeloid leukemia stem cells and that combined treatment with a BCL-2 inhibitor and nilotinib can successfully eradicate both the active tumor cells and the stem cells, suggesting the potential for curative treatment.