Despite recent modest improvements in the chemotherapy regimens used to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML), many patients diagnosed with AML ultimately die of the disease. Commonly occurring genetic alterations have been identified that strongly affect the prognosis for patients with AML. These alterations represent possible targets for investigational therapies that could act to specifically halt the aberrant growth of AML cells while limiting damage to normal cells. One such gene is the Fms-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) gene, which is mutated in approximately 30% of adult patients with AML and has a significant impact on prognosis. In particular, internal tandem duplications in FLT3 confer a poor prognosis to this large subgroup of patients with AML. Agents that target FLT3 are in development for the treatment of patients who have AML and offer a potential paradigm change in the current standard treatment of AML. For this report, the authors reviewed the prognostic significance of genetic alterations observed in AML with a focus on the therapeutic implications of targeting FLT3. The introduction of such agents may be the next major step toward the era of personalized therapy in AML.
Copyright © 2011 American Cancer Society.