STI571: targeting BCR-ABL as therapy for CML

Oncologist. 2001;6(3):233-8. doi: 10.1634/theoncologist.6-3-233.


Therapeutic agent STI571 (signal transduction inhibitor number 571) is a rationally developed, potent, and selective inhibitor for abl tyrosine kinases, including bcr-abl, as well c-kit and the platelet-derived growth factor receptor tyrosine kinases. Results of clinical trials to date have demonstrated the crucial role of the bcr-abl tyrosine kinase in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) pathogenesis and the potential of anticancer agents designed to target specific molecular abnormalities in human cancer. An initial phase I study of STI571 included 83 Ph(+) CML patients who had failed interferon-based therapy. Patients were required to be in chronic phase, defined liberally as less than 15% blasts in blood or bone marrow. Patients were treated with once-daily oral doses of STI571 in 14 successive dose cohorts ranging from 25-1,000 mg. In this phase I study, no dose-limiting toxicity was encountered and toxicity at all dose levels was minimal. The threshold for a maximally effective dose was found at 300 mg; for patients treated at or above this level, complete hematologic response was seen in 98% of patients, with complete cytogenetic responses in 13% and major cytogenetic responses in 31%. With a median duration of follow-up of 310 days, ongoing responses are evident in 96% of patients. In the phase II study of the accelerated phase of CML, 233 patients were treated with either 400 or 600 mg of STI571. With similar follow-up to the chronic phase trial, 91% of patients showed a hematological response; 63% of patients achieved a complete hematological response but not all patients had recovery of peripheral blood counts. In addition to the phase II clinical trials with STI571, a phase III trial randomizing newly diagnosed patients to either interferon with low-dose s.c. cytosine arabinoside versus STI571 is ongoing; this trial accrued rapidly and data collection is ongoing. Integration of STI571 into CML treatment algorithms will require long-term follow-up data from the ongoing phase II and III clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzamides
  • Genes, abl / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Piperazines
  • Pyrimidines
  • Imatinib Mesylate