Profile of sapacitabine: potential for the treatment of newly diagnosed acute myeloid leukemia in elderly patients
Ming Y Lim, Katarzyna Jamieson
Department of Medicine, Division of Hematology/Oncology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Abstract: Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematopoietic stem cell disorder that affects approximately 14,000 persons each year in the US. AML occurs at all ages but the incidence increases with age with the median age at diagnosis being 67 years. Advances in the treatment of AML over the past decades have led to improved survival, albeit mostly in younger patients. The prognosis of older patients with this disease over the same time span has not changed much and remains dismal. This review focuses on the epidemiology and characteristics of AML in elderly patients, the rationale for treating elderly AML patients, and the currently available and potential future treatment options such as sapacitabine. Elderly AML patients treated with intensive chemotherapy have a higher mortality rate, and a lower rate of complete remission and overall survival when compared to the younger population. This is due to both the different biology of the disease and the number of patient-specific factors. However, elderly AML patients treated with aggressive chemotherapy can achieve durable remissions, which offer prolonged survival and improved quality of life. Recent data also indicates that elderly AML patients deemed unfit for intensive chemotherapy benefit from leukemia-specific attenuated dose chemotherapy compared to supportive care alone. This has led to renewed interest to look for anti-leukemic therapies designed specifically for older patients. Sapacitabine, a novel oral nucleoside analog, promises good efficacy, favorable toxicity profile, and ease of administration; all of which makes it very appealing. Results from pre-clinical and clinical studies have been very encouraging and sapacitabine is currently being evaluated in a Phase III study, of which the results are eagerly awaited.
Keywords: AML, elderly, management, sapacitabine
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