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Concept: Philadelphia chromosome


The hallmarks of many haematological malignancies and solid tumours are chromosomal translocations, which may lead to gene fusions. Recently, next-generation sequencing techniques at the transcriptome level (RNA-Seq) have been used to verify known and discover novel transcribed gene fusions. We present FusionFinder, a Perl-based software designed to automate the discovery of candidate gene fusion partners from single-end (SE) or paired-end (PE) RNA-Seq read data. FusionFinder was applied to data from a previously published analysis of the K562 chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) cell line. Using FusionFinder we successfully replicated the findings of this study and detected additional previously unreported fusion genes in their dataset, which were confirmed experimentally. These included two isoforms of a fusion involving the genes BRK1 and VHL, whose co-deletion has previously been associated with the prevalence and severity of renal-cell carcinoma. FusionFinder is made freely available for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from the project website (

Concepts: Genetics, Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Leukemia, Chromosomal translocation, Philadelphia chromosome, Fusion gene


BACKGROUND: BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations are infrequently detected in newly diagnosed chronic-phase chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients. Recent studies indicate the presence of pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations in a higher percentage of CML patients when CD34+ stem/progenitor cells are investigated using sensitive techniques, and these mutations are associated with imatinib resistance and disease progression. However, such studies were limited to smaller number of patients. METHODS: We investigated BCR-ABL kinase domain mutations in CD34+ cells from 100 chronic-phase CML patients by multiplex allele-specific PCR and sequencing at diagnosis. Mutations were re-investigated upon manifestation of imatinib resistance using allele-specific PCR and direct sequencing of BCR-ABL kinase domain. RESULTS: Pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations were detected in 32/100 patients and included F311L, M351T, and T315I. After a median follow-up of 30 months (range 8-48), all patients with pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations exhibited imatinib resistance. Of the 68 patients without pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations, 24 developed imatinib resistance; allele-specific PCR and BCR-ABL kinase domain sequencing detected mutations in 22 of these patients. All 32 patients with pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations had the same mutations after manifestation of imatinib-resistance. In imatinib-resistant patients without pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations, we detected F311L, M351T, Y253F, and T315I mutations. All imatinib-resistant patients except T315I and Y253F mutations responded to imatinib dose escalation. CONCLUSION: Pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations can be detected in a substantial number of chronic-phase CML patients by sensitive allele-specific PCR technique using CD34+ cells. These mutations are associated with imatinib resistance if affecting drug binding directly or indirectly. After the recent approval of nilotinib, dasatinib, bosutinib and ponatinib for treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia along with imatinib, all of which vary in their effectiveness against mutated BCR-ABL forms, detection of pre-existing BCR-ABL mutations can help in selection of appropriate first-line drug therapy. Thus, mutation testing using CD34+ cells may facilitate improved, patient-tailored treatment.

Concepts: DNA, Mutation, Enzyme, Leukemia, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome, Dasatinib


We analyzed the cost-effectiveness of treating incident chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) with generic imatinib when it becomes available in United States in 2016. In the year following generic entry, imatinib’s price is expected to drop 70% to 90%. We hypothesized that initiating treatment with generic imatinib in these patients and then switching to the other tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKIs), dasatinib or nilotinib, because of intolerance or lack of effectiveness (“imatinib-first”) would be cost-effective compared with the current standard of care: “physicians' choice” of initiating treatment with any one of the three TKIs.

Concepts: Signal transduction, United States, Protein kinase, Tyrosine kinase, Leukemia, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome


Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a dermal and subcutaneous tumor of intermediate malignancy. The most remarkable cytogenetic feature of DFSP is the chromosomal translocation t(17;22)(q22;q13), causing a fusion of the platelet-derived growth factor beta chain (PDGFB) gene at 22q13, and the collagen type 1 alpha 1 (COL1A1) at 17q22. The aim of the study was to analyze the molecular characteristic of DFSP in conjunction with histopathological and clinical features. We performed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and multiplex reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect chromosomal translocations and fusion gene transcripts in 16 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded DFSP samples. In addition, the amplification of PDGFB was also evaluated in the 16 DFSP samples by real-time PCR. FISH analysis revealed that all the 16 samples exhibited COL1A1-PDGFB gene fusion. Eleven out of 11 informative cases (100%) showed fusion transcripts by multiplex RT-PCR analysis. Various exons of the COL1A1 gene were fused with the PDGFB gene. Among them, exon 25 was found to be more frequently involved. Real-time PCR showed that the PDGFB copy number increase in the DFSP samples was higher than in normal skin tissues (p=0.007). Values of FISH fusion signals and PDGFB DNA analysis were variable between samples, but suggested that increased values might be associated with parameters of tumor progression. Our results confirm that analysis of the COL1A1-PDGFB status by FISH and RT-PCR is a useful tool in the confirmation of a DFSP diagnosis. In addition, the analysis of PDGFB copy number status may become a useful diagnostic marker since the gene is a potential target for treatment of DFSP patients.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Molecular biology, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Philadelphia chromosome, Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, PDGFB


Dasatinib is a multi-kinase inhibitor that potently inhibits Bcr-Abl, Src family and platelet-derived growth factor receptor kinases. Methotrexate is an antimetabolite and antifolate drug. Clinical trials utilizing a combination of dasatinib and methotrexate in patients with Philadelphia chromosome positive and/or Bcr-Abl positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia are currently ongoing. A need therefore exists to develop a sensitive analytical method for determination of dasatinib and methotrexate in plasma.To estimate methotrexate, dasatinib and its active metabolite N-deshydroxyethyl dasatinib simultaneously using liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization tandem mass spectrometry (HPLC-ESI-MS/MS) in Wistar rat plasma.The analytes were extracted by using liquid-liquid extraction procedure and separated on a reverse phase C18 column (50 mm×3 mm i.d., 4.6 µ) using methanol: 2 mM ammonium acetate buffer, pH 4.0 as mobile phase at a flow rate 1 mL/min in gradient mode. Selective reaction monitoring was performed using the transitions m/z 455.0>175.0, 488.1 > 401.0, 444.26>401.0, and 271.1>- 155.0 to quantify methotrexate, dasatinib, N-deshydroxyethyl dasatinib and tolbutamide respectively.The method was validated over the concentration range of 1-1 000 ng/mL and the lower limit of quantitation was 1 ng/mL. The recoveries from spiked control samples were > 79% for all analytes and internal standard Intra- and Interday accuracy and precision of validated method were within the acceptable limits of < 15% at all concentration.The quantitation method was successfully applied for simultaneous estimation of methotrexate, dasatinib and N- deshydroxyethyl dasatinib in a pharmacokinetic study in Wistar rats.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Mass spectrometry, Growth factor, Analytical chemistry, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Philadelphia chromosome, Dasatinib


BACKGROUND: A large number of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) patients are treated with imatinib mesylate outside of clinical trials, which may not be representative of common clinical practice. The age of CML patients enrolled within controlled clinical studies is lower with respect to patients included in population-based registries. PATIENTS AND METHODS: To describe the safety and tolerability of imatinib in very elderly CML patients in chronic phase, 211 chronic-phase CML patients aged >75 years were retrospectively analyzed using data collected from 31 institutions in Italy. RESULTS: The median age at imatinib start was 78.6 years [interquartile range (IR) 76.3-81.4], median time from diagnosis to imatinib start was 1.2 months (IR 0.5-3.7). The starting dose of imatinib was 400 mg/day in 144 patients (68.2 %), >400 mg/day in 4 patients (2.0 %), and <400 mg/day in 63 patients (29.8 %); overall, 94 patients (44.5 %) needed a dose reduction and 27 (12.7 %) discontinued imatinib for toxicity. Grade 3-4 hematologic and extrahematologic toxicities were observed in 40 (18.9 %) and 45 (21.3 %) patients, respectively. After a median observation of 29.8 months (IR 13.0-55.6), 203/211 patients had at least 6 months of observation on imatinib or discontinued before and were evaluable for response and outcome; of them, 183 patients (90.2 %) achieved a complete hematologic response (CHR). Among these 183 patients in CHR, 14 refused any other karyotypic or molecular evaluation, 24 achieved CHR only, and 145 (71.4 %) achieved a cytogenetic response (CyR) of any grade, which was complete (CCyR) in 129 (63.5 %). Among the 129 patients with CCyR, 95 (46.7 %) achieved a major molecular response (MMolR). By multivariate regression analysis, late chronic phase (p = 0.001) and grade 3-4 extrahematologic toxicity (p = 0.007) maintained a negative independent prognostic impact for CCyR, while late chronic phase (p = 0.026), grade 3-4 extrahematologic toxicity (p = 0.007), and lower initial dose of imatinib (p = 0.044) maintained a negative independent prognostic impact for MMolR. The 2-year and 4-year overall survival were 92.6 % (95 % CI 88.7-96.5) and 78.0 % (95 % CI 71.2-84.8), respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Results from this large cohort of patients show that no upper age limit should be applied for the administration of imatinib to patients with chronic-phase CML; the very elderly, including those with concomitant severe diseases, should be offered this treatment. The role of a reduced starting dose of imatinib warrants further studies.

Concepts: Regression analysis, Clinical trial, Leukemia, Blood disorders, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome, Mesylate


OBJECTIVES: The validity of the three currently used chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) scoring systems (Sokal CML prognostic scoring system, Euro/Hasford CML scoring system, and the EUTOS CML prognostic scoring system) were compared in the CML patients receiving frontline imatinib mesylate. PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred and fourty-three chronic phase CML patients (71 males, 72 females) taking imatinib as frontline treatment were included in the study. The median age was 44 (16-82) years. Median total and on-imatinib follow-up durations were 29 (3.8-130) months and 25 (3-125) months, respectively. RESULTS: The complete hematological response (CHR) rate at 3 months was 95%. The best cumulative complete cytogenetic response (CCyR) rate at 24 months was 79.6%. Euro/Hasford scoring system was well-correlated with both Sokal and EUTOS scores (r = 0.6, P < 0.001 and r = 0.455, P < 0.001). However, there was only a weak correlation between Sokal and EUTOS scores (r = 0.2, P = 0.03). The 5-year median estimated event-free survival for low and high EUTOS risk patients were 62.6 (25.7-99.5) and 15.3 (7.4-23.2) months, respectively (P < 0.001). This performance was better than Sokal (P = 0.3) and Euro/Hasford (P = 0.04) scoring systems. Overall survival and CCyR rates were also better predicted by the EUTOS score. DISCUSSION: EUTOS CML prognostic scoring system, which is the only prognostic system developed during the imatinib era, predicts European LeukemiaNet (ELN)-based event-free survival better than Euro/Hasford and Sokal systems in CML patients receiving frontline imatinib mesylate. This observation might have important clinical implications.

Concepts: Leukemia, Scores, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome, Mesylate


Background Ponatinib is a potent oral tyrosine kinase inhibitor of unmutated and mutated BCR-ABL, including BCR-ABL with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor-refractory threonine-to-isoleucine mutation at position 315 (T315I). We conducted a phase 2 trial of ponatinib in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) or Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia (Ph-positive ALL). Methods We enrolled 449 heavily pretreated patients who had CML or Ph-positive ALL with resistance to or unacceptable side effects from dasatinib or nilotinib or who had the BCR-ABL T315I mutation. Ponatinib was administered at an initial dose of 45 mg once daily. The median follow-up was 15 months. Results Among 267 patients with chronic-phase CML, 56% had a major cytogenetic response (51% of patients with resistance to or unacceptable side effects from dasatinib or nilotinib and 70% of patients with the T315I mutation), 46% had a complete cytogenetic response (40% and 66% in the two subgroups, respectively), and 34% had a major molecular response (27% and 56% in the two subgroups, respectively). Responses were observed regardless of the baseline BCR-ABL kinase domain mutation status and were durable; the estimated rate of a sustained major cytogenetic response of at least 12 months was 91%. No single BCR-ABL mutation conferring resistance to ponatinib was detected. Among 83 patients with accelerated-phase CML, 55% had a major hematologic response and 39% had a major cytogenetic response. Among 62 patients with blast-phase CML, 31% had a major hematologic response and 23% had a major cytogenetic response. Among 32 patients with Ph-positive ALL, 41% had a major hematologic response and 47% had a major cytogenetic response. Common adverse events were thrombocytopenia (in 37% of patients), rash (in 34%), dry skin (in 32%), and abdominal pain (in 22%). Serious arterial thrombotic events were observed in 9% of patients; these events were considered to be treatment-related in 3%. A total of 12% of patients discontinued treatment because of an adverse event. Conclusions Ponatinib had significant antileukemic activity across categories of disease stage and mutation status. (Funded by Ariad Pharmaceuticals and others; PACE number, NCT01207440 .).

Concepts: Cancer, Protein kinase, Leukemia, Blood disorders, Acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome


We report the 5-year analysis from the phase III Dasatinib Versus Imatinib Study in Treatment-Naïve Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Patients (DASISION) trial, evaluating long-term efficacy and safety outcomes of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in chronic phase (CP) treated with dasatinib or imatinib.

Concepts: Leukemia, Acute myeloid leukemia, Blood disorders, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome


Targeted BCR-ABL protein kinase inhibitors have revolutionized the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and have established tyrosine kinase inhibition as a model for cancer-drug discovery and therapy in general. In 2001, imatinib became the first such tyrosine kinase inhibitor therapy to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Initially developed as part of a series of compounds that inhibit the platelet-derived growth factor receptor, imatinib was also shown to have potency against ABL and KIT kinases. Despite imatinib’s breakthrough success, more than 20% of patients are resistant to the drug. Therefore, second- and third-generation inhibitors - dasatinib, . . .

Concepts: Signal transduction, Protein kinase, Enzyme inhibitor, Inhibitor, Chronic myelogenous leukemia, Imatinib, Philadelphia chromosome, Protein kinase inhibitor