Nilotinib, an orally bioavailable, selective Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor, is 30-fold more potent than imatinib in preclinical models, and overcomes most imatinib resistant BCR-ABL mutations. In this phase 2 open-label study, 400 mg nilotinib was administered orally twice daily to 280 patients with Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph +) chronic myeloid leukemia in chronic phase (CML-CP) after imatinib failure or intolerance. Patients had at least 6 months of follow-up and were evaluated for hematologic and cytogenetic responses, as well as for safety and overall survival. At 6 months, the rate of major cytogenetic response (Ph ≤ 35%) was 48%: complete (Ph = 0%) in 31%, and partial (Ph = 1%-35%) in 16%. The estimated survival at 12 months was 95%. Nilotinib was effective in patients harboring BCR-ABL mutations associated with imatinib resistance (except T315I), and also in patients with a resistance mechanism independent of BCR-ABL mutations. Adverse events were mostly mild to moderate, and there was minimal cross-intolerance with imatinib. Grades 3 to 4 neutropenia and thrombocytopenia were observed in 29% of patients; pleural or pericardial effusions were observed in 1% (none were severe). In summary, nilotinib is highly active and safe in patients with CML-CP after imatinib failure or intolerance. This clinical trial is registered at http://clinicaltrials.gov as ID no. NCT00109707.
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