Critical appraisal of nilotinib in frontline treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia

David L. de Remer, Katerina Katsanevas, Celalettin Ustun

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The development of imatinib has revolutionized the treatment of chronic myeloid leukemia. Follow-up analysis of IRIS trial participants continues to demonstrate durable responses for imatinib at 400 mg/day. However, 10%-15% of patients with chronic myeloid leukemia will become imatinib-resistant or intolerant of adverse events. Phase II studies have shown that most of these patients will respond to second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as nilotinib, dasatinib, and bosutinib. Both nilotinib and dasatinib have recently demonstrated clinical efficacy as frontline therapy in Phase III studies. In the ENESTnd trial, nilotinib 600-800 mg/day produced significantly higher major molecular rates and complete cytogenetic response rates in comparison with imatinib at 12 months. Recently, 18-month follow-up analysis of this trial continues to demonstrate superiority for nilotinib. It is unknown whether this will ultimately translate into improved long-term outcomes, such as event-free survival or overall survival. Nilotinib continues to be generally well tolerated and tends to produce less Grade 3/4 toxicity in frontline therapy when compared with its use following imatinib failure. With three tyrosine kinase inhibitors for potential frontline therapy and an active drug discovery pipeline, treatment for chronic myeloid leukemia is still subject to change with time as clinical algorithms continue to evolve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-78
Number of pages14
JournalCancer Management and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011


  • Adverse events
  • Chronic myeloid leukemia
  • Frontline therapy
  • Nilotinib


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