Chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) patients could be cured of the disease by a standard drug treatment, according to a trial study.
Professor Francois-Xavier Mahon, who led the study published in the Lancet Oncology, discovered that a proportion of patients with CML remained completely free of the disease two years after doctors stopped treating them with imatinib (Glivec).
The drug treatment works by switching off an enzyme linked to the cancer, which in turn reduces levels of an abnormal protein called BCR/ABL.
The results have led experts to believe that at least some patients with CML can be cured by imatinib and appears to quash the notion that the slow-growing form of cancer would always return if treatment is halted.
A study of 69 CML patients was designed to see whether complete molecular remission (CMR) can continue after ending imatinib treatment. It found that CMR was maintained in 41% of patients one year after treatment stopped, and in 38% of patients who had not been prescribed imatinib for up to two years.