ARTICLE | Product Development

Learning from Gleevec

Gleevec pathfinder Druker on the future of targeted cancer therapies

September 15, 2014 7:00 AM UTC

Gleevec imatinib from Novartis AG transformed cancer drug development by proving that a targeted therapy could produce dramatic, sustained remissions with far less toxicity than conventional chemotherapy. But while targeted therapies have been approved for at least 25 different types of cancer, none have matched the efficacy of Gleevec and second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitors. These drugs have transformed chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) from a deadly disease into a chronic, manageable condition.

Early diagnosis was the key to Gleevec's success, and the ability to diagnose cancer early will be needed to achieve sustained remissions from other targeted cancer therapies, according to Brian Druker, director of the Oregon Health & Science University's Knight Cancer Institute. Druker's translational research was instrumental in solving the drugability challenges that had stalled the development of Gleevec...