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Feb 25, 2020

The role of small molecule Flt3 receptor protein-tyrosine kinase inhibitors in the treatment of Flt3-positive acute myelogenous leukemias

Abstract

Flt3 is expressed by early myeloid and lymphoid progenitor cells and it regulates the proliferation and differentiation of hematopoietic cells. Flt3 is activated by the Flt3 ligand, the monomeric form of which is a polypeptide of about 200 amino acid residues. Both membrane-associated and soluble Flt3 ligands, which are a product of the same gene, function as noncovalent dimers. FLT3 mutations occur in about one-third of newly diagnosed acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) patients. This disease is a malignancy of hematopoietic progenitor cells with a variable clinical course; the incidence of this disorder is more than twice that of patients with chronic myelogenous leukemias (20,000 vs. 8500 new patients per year, respectively, in the United States). FLT3 internal tandem duplication (ITD) results from the head-to-tail duplication of from one to more than 100 amino acids within the juxtamembrane domain and such duplication occurs in about 20–25 % of patients with acute myelogenous leukemias. FLT3 tyrosine kinase (FLT3 TK) mutations, usually within the activation segment, occur in 5–10 % of these patients. The mainstay for the care of acute myelogenous leukemias include daunorubicin or idarubicin and cytarabine. Older patients who are not candidates for such traditional therapy are usually given 5-azacitidine, decitabine, or clofarabine. The addition of orally effective small molecule Flt3 inhibitors to these therapies may prolong event-free and overall survival, a subject of ongoing clinical studies. Midostaurin is US FDA-approved in combination with standard cytarabine and daunorubicin for first-line induction chemotherapy and in combination with cytarabine for second-line consolidation chemotherapy in the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemias with FLT3-postive mutations. Moreover, gilteritinib is a Flt3 multikinase inhibitor that is also FDA approved for the care of adult patients with relapsed or refractory acute myelogenous leukemias with FLT3 mutations. Quizartinib is a Flt3 multikinase inhibitor that was approved by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) of Japan for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed/refractory Flt3-positive acute myelogenous leukemias. Gilteritinib and quizartinib bind to Flt3 with the inactive DFG-Dout structure and are classified as type II inhibitors. Furthermore, ponatinib is a multikinase inhibitor that is approved as therapy for Philadelphia chromosome-positive acute lymphoblastic and chronic myelogenous leukemias; it is used off label for the treatment of patients with acute myelogenous leukemias. Moreover, sorafenib is FDA-approved for the treatment of hepatocellular, renal cell, and differentiated thyroid cancers and it is used off label as maintenance therapy following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation in the treatment of acute myelogenous leukemias. Other drugs that are in clinical trials for the treatment of this disorder include sunitinib, crenolanib, FF10101, and lestaurtinib. Unlike chronic myelogenous leukemias, which result solely from the formation of the BCR-Abl chimeric protein kinase, acute myelogenous leukemias result from multi-factorial causes and are prone to be resistant to both cytotoxic and targeted therapies. Consequently, there is a pressing need for better understanding the etiologies of acute myelogenous leukemias and for the development of more effective therapies.

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