The identification of the Philadelphia chromosome in cells from individuals with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) led to the recognition that the BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase causes CML. This in turn led to the development of imatinib mesylate, a clinically successful inhibitor of the BCR-ABL kinase. Incorporating the use of markers of BCR-ABL kinase inhibition into clinical trials led to the realization that imatinib-resistant kinase domain mutations are the major cause of relapse during imatinib therapy and the subsequent development of new inhibitors to treat CML patients. The development of imatinib validates an emerging paradigm in cancer, in which a tumor is defined by genetic abnormalities and effective therapies are developed that target events critical to the growth and survival of a specific tumor.
Daniel W. Sherbenou, Brian J. Druker