Development of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have improved outcomes for patients diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia and Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia. However, resistance or intolerance to these TKIs still leaves some patients without many treatment options. One point mutation in particular, the T315I mutation, has been shown to be resistant to first and second generation TKIs. The third generation TKI, ponatinib, may provide an option for these patients. Ponatinib (Iclusig®), an orally available, pan-tyrosine kinase inhibitor has a unique binding mechanism allowing inhibition of BCR-ABL kinases, including those with the T315I point mutation. A Phase II study evaluated ponatinib in patients who were resistant or intolerant to nilotinib or dasatinib or patients who had the T315I mutation. In the Phase II study, ponatinib produced a major cytogenetic response in 54% of chronic phase chronic myeloid leukemia patients. It further achieved major hematologic response in 52% of patients in the accelerated phase, 31% of patients in the blast phase, and 41% of Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients. Ponatinib also showed efficacy in patients with the T315I mutation. Serious adverse events included arterial thrombosis, hepatotoxicity, cardiovascular risks, pancreatitis, hemorrhage, fluid retention, myelosuppression, rash, abdominal pain, and embryo-fetal toxicity. Due to the risk of these adverse events and potential drug interactions, the use of ponatinib must be carefully weighed against the benefits in treating patients who have limited treatment options.
Keywords: BCR-ABL; Philadelphia chromosome; T315I; TKI; tyrosine kinase inhibitor.