In 1960, Peter C. Nowell described an unusual small chromosome present in leukocytes from patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia that was thereafter designated the Philadelphia chromosome. This Review series includes contributions from individuals who performed critical experiments in the wake of the description of the Philadelphia chromosome, reflecting the nearly 50 years of work inspired by Nowell’s initial finding.
The discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome as a hallmark of chronic myelogenous leukemia in 1960 by Peter Nowell provided evidence for a genetic link to cancer. As with most seminal scientific observations, the description of the Philadelphia chromosome posed many more questions than were answered. This Review series includes contributions from individuals who performed critical experiments addressing some of the most important of these questions, reflecting the nearly 50 years of work inspired by Nowell’s initial finding. The legacy of the Philadelphia chromosome now serves as a paradigm for how basic science discoveries can lead to effective new approaches for the treatment of human disease.
Gary A. Koretzky
Almost 50 years ago, David Hungerford and I noticed an abnormally small chromosome in cells from patients with chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML). This article is a personal perspective of the events leading to the discovery of this chromosome, which became known as the Philadelphia chromosome. As technology advanced over subsequent decades, the translocation resulting in the Philadelphia chromosome has been identified, its role in the development of CML has been confirmed, and a therapy directed against the abnormal protein it produces has shown promising results in the treatment of patients with CML.
Peter C. Nowell
The scientists of today have become accustomed to the extremely rapid pace of progress in the biomedical sciences spurred on by the discovery of recombinant DNA and the advent of automated DNA sequencing and PCR, with progress usually being measured in months or years at most. What is often forgotten, however, are the many prior advances that were needed to reach our present state of knowledge. Here I illustrate this by discussing the scientific discoveries made over the course of the past century and a half that ultimately led to the recent successful development of drugs, particularly imatinib mesylate, to treat chronic myelogenous leukemia.
Peter Nowell and David Hungerford’s discovery of the Philadelphia chromosome facilitated many critical studies that have led to a paradigm shift in our understanding of cancer as a disease of stem cells. This Review focuses on the application of these concepts to investigation of the role of stem cells in prostate cancer initiation and progression. Major strides in the development of in vitro and in vivo assays have enabled identification and characterization of prostate stem cells as well as functional evaluation of the tumorigenic effects of prostate cancer–related genetic alterations.
Devon A. Lawson, Owen N. Witte
Understanding the genetic origin of cancer at the molecular level has facilitated the development of novel targeted therapies. Aberrant activation of the ErbB family of receptors is implicated in many human cancers and is already the target of several anticancer therapeutics. The use of mAbs specific for the extracellular domain of ErbB receptors was the first implementation of rational targeted therapy. The cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase domain is also a preferred target for small compounds that inhibit the kinase activity of these receptors. However, current therapy has not yet been optimized, allowing for opportunities for optimization of the next generation of targeted therapy, particularly with regards to inhibiting heteromeric ErbB family receptor complexes.
Hongtao Zhang, Alan Berezov, Qiang Wang, Geng Zhang, Jeffrey Drebin, Ramachandran Murali, Mark I. Greene
There is widespread aberrant expression of mature and/or precursor microRNAs in cancer cells, as microRNAs are deregulated consequent to chromosomal alterations and other genomic abnormalities. The identification of such abnormalities has a clear diagnostic and prognostic significance, and there are ever increasing examples of links between certain human cancers and modifications at microRNA loci.
George A. Calin, Carlo M. Croce
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