STOMACH CANCER - THE LATEST TARGET FOR THE 'MAGIC BULLET'
Gastrointestinal stromal tumours (GISTs) are the most recent cancer type to be targeted by the most effective new drug of recent years--imatinib mesylate. Effective treatment of GISTs has been hindered in the past by their characteristic resistance to conventional chemotherapy and persistent misclassification of these tumours in clinical studies has made pre-2000 data difficult to interpret. However, it is now known that most GISTs contain a mutation in the KIT tyrosine kinase, which means they are an ideal target for imatinib. In their review, Heikki Joensuu and colleagues discuss the recent advances in understanding of these difficult-to-treat tumours and discusses the impact of imatinib on outcome for patients with GISTs. The authors conclude that imatinib "has provided physicians with a well-tolerated and highly effective therapeutic option for a disease for which no systemic therapy existed previously".
Imatinib was heralded the "magic bullet" drug after extraordinary success in treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, for which it received FDA approval last year. It has also recently been granted FDA approval for the treatment of GISTs.
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