The introduction of JAK inhibitors, leading to regulatory approval of ruxolitinib, represents a major therapeutic advance in myelofibrosis (MF). Most patients experience reduction in splenomegaly and improved quality of life from symptom improvement. It is a paradox, however, that, despite inhibition of signaling downstream of disease-related driver mutations, JAK inhibitor treatment is not associated with consistent molecular or pathologic responses in MF. Furthermore, there are important limitations to JAK inhibitor therapy including development of dose-limiting cytopenias and/or nonhematological toxicities such as neuropathy or opportunistic infections. Over half of the patients discontinue treatment within 3 years of starting treatment. Although data are sparse, clinical outcome after JAK inhibitor “failure” is likely poor; consequently, it is important to understand patterns of failure to select appropriate salvage treatment(s). An algorithmic approach, particularly one that incorporates cytogenetics/molecular data, is most helpful in selecting stem cell transplant candidates. Treatment of transplant-ineligible patients relies on a problem-based approach that includes use of investigational drugs, or consideration of splenectomy or radiotherapy. Data from early phase ruxolitinib combination studies, despite promising preclinical data, have not shown clear benefit over monotherapy thus far. Development of effective treatment strategies for MF patients failing JAK inhibitors remains a major unmet need.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology