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Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    25-January-2001      
Issue 25 Next Update - 14:00 UTC 08:00 EST    26-January-2001      

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Background On STI-571 (Glivec)

STI-571, a drug under testing for some types of cancer, received substantial media attention in late 1999. (NBC News referred to the drug simply as a "cancer pill".) STI-571 was initially developed to treat a certain form of leukemia called chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML); the drug showed very promising results in early studies completed in 1999-2000. STI-571 is a part of a growing group of molecularly targeted treatments in which drugs are designed to treat diseases with specific genetic changes. Research studies in 2000 revealed that STI-571 may also be effective in treating certain types of brain and stomach cancers and clinical trials are underway to further determine its usefulness.

Facts about STI-571

Manufacturer: Novartis

Route of administration: Oral (capsule).

Mechanism of action: STI-571 is a signal transduction inhibitor, specifically a Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Bcr-Abl tyrosine kinase is a protein produced by a chromosomal change found in patients with CML. It is believed to play an important role in allowing the myeloid cell proliferation that occurs in CML. STI-571 works by blocking signals within cancer cells that express the Bcr-Abl protein, thus preventing a series of chemical reactions that cause or signal the cell to grow and divide.

Availability: STI-571 is not commercially available in any country.

The following clinical trials using STI-571 in the treatment of CML are open.

Phase II Study of STI571 in Patients With Accelerated Phase Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia

Phase II Study of STI571 in Patients With Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia in Blast Crisis

Phase II Study of STI571 in Patients With Chronic Phase Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia Refractory to or Intolerant of Interferon Alfa

The following study is open to pediatric and young adult patients (age 22 and younger):

Phase I Study of STI571 in Patients With Recurrent Philadelphia Chromosome Positive Leukemia

If you are interested in STI-571 for the treatment of CML, you can call the Novartis Oncology Clinical Trials line at 800-340-6843.

Other Clinical Trials for CML

Besides the studies involving STI-571, there are many other ongoing clinical trials for CML. The links below will generate lists of clinical trials for CML that are currently open in the PDQ database.

Clinical Trials of STI-571 in Other Types of Cancer

STI-571 has also shown some promise in a limited number of other types of cancers. The following clinical trials are currently open for patient enrollment:


  • Brain Tumors including recurrent malignant glioma or meningioma

SWOG-S0033 (GIST Trial)

  • Soft Tissue Sarcomas including gastrointestinal stromal tumors

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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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