CML refers to Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. This type of cancer originates in the bone marrow. It occurs when a genetic change takes place in immature myeloid cells. These cells are responsible for the production of platelets, red blood cells and many types of white blood cells. As a result of these changes an abnormal gene known as BCR-ABL is formed. In turn, this gene converts the myeloid cells into CML cells.
As cancer progresses, the cells spill out of the bone marrow and enter the circulatory system. The cells are transported through the blood to other organs and can settle in various other parts of the body. CML is a slow growing cancer but in some cases, it can turn into fast-growing cancer that is hard to treat. It is more common amongst adult and is rarely seen among children.
Studies on CML are directed towards both the understanding of how cancer develops and how it can be treated. Scientists are making steady progress towards understanding how a person’s DNA can change and in turn cause a mutating of bone marrow cells into CML cells. For this, researchers are studying what changes can make a cell grow fast, live longer than usual etc.
There are a few drugs that have proven to be effective in the treatment of CML. These drugs target proteins like BCR-ABL. However, not all patients benefit from it. Hence, studies are now underway to evaluate how it could be combined with other forms of treatment such as cancer vaccines, interferon or chemotherapy to be more effective. It is also being combined with other medicines to study the effects.
New drugs have also been developed to target and treat CML. In cases where CML cells create a mutation known as T315I by changing the BCR-ABL cells, the cancer is resistant to many different types of therapy. This includes targeted therapies like nilotinib, imatinib, and dasatinib. Thus, drugs are being created that can treat this mutation. Another type of drug that is being developed is known as farnesyl transferase inhibitors. In some tests, these are also being combined with imatinib.
Vaccinations that can protect a person from CML are also being studied. For this several vaccines have been developed and are currently being tested for effectiveness. CMLVAX100 is one such vaccine. Some studies have shown that when this vaccine is combined with imatinib, it is more effective.
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