Choosing the best treatment strategy for chronic myeloid leukemia patients resistant to imatinib: weighing the efficacy and safety of individual drugs with BCR-ABL mutations and patient history

Leukemia. 2010 Jan;24(1):6-12. doi: 10.1038/leu.2009.193. Epub 2009 Oct 1.


For patients with chronic myeloid leukemia who become or are inherently resistant to imatinib therapy, including dose escalation, several important factors must be considered when deciding which strategy to attempt next. The second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) dasatinib and nilotinib offer improved potency and a high likelihood of success for these patients. Overall, the efficacy data are comparable for these two agents, and so physicians should consider the BCR-ABL mutation profile and the patient's history to make an educated decision on the best choice. Only a few BCR-ABL mutations seem to be less responsive to either nilotinib or dasatinib and it is recommended to choose the second-line TKI that has shown clinical activity against the specific mutation in these cases. For patients with all other mutations, and for patients with no mutations, it is recommended to choose the second-generation TKI based on the patient's disease history. It is important to choose an agent that minimizes the likelihood of exacerbating the patient's past tolerability issues to imatinib, or comorbid conditions. Here, we propose a treatment algorithm for imatinib-resistant patients based on BCR-ABL mutation status and patient history.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Benzamides
  • Dasatinib
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / drug therapy*
  • Leukemia, Myelogenous, Chronic, BCR-ABL Positive / genetics
  • Mutation*
  • Piperazines / adverse effects
  • Piperazines / therapeutic use*
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Thiazoles / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Benzamides
  • Piperazines
  • Protein Kinase Inhibitors
  • Pyrimidines
  • Thiazoles
  • abl-bcr fusion protein, human
  • Imatinib Mesylate
  • Fusion Proteins, bcr-abl
  • nilotinib
  • Dasatinib