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31-03-2016 | Gastrointestinal stromal tumors | Article

Immunological off-target effects of imatinib

Laurence Zitvogel, Sylvie Rusakiewicz, Bertrand Routy, Maha Ayyoub, Guido Kroemer


Around 15 years ago, imatinib mesylate (Gleevec® or Glivec®, Novartis, Switzerland) became the very first 'targeted' anticancer drug to be clinically approved. This drug constitutes the quintessential example of a successful precision medicine that has truly changed the fate of patients with Philadelphia-chromosome-positive chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumours by targeting the oncogenic drivers of these diseases, BCR–ABL1 and KIT and/or PDGFR, mutations in which lead to gain of function of tyrosine kinase activities. Nonetheless, the aforementioned paradigm might not fully explain the clinical success of this agent in these diseases. Growing evidence indicates that the immune system has a major role both in determining the therapeutic efficacy of imatinib (and other targeted agents) and in restraining the emergence of escape mutations. In this Review, we re-evaluate the therapeutic utility of imatinib in the context of the anticancer immunosurveillance system, and we discuss how this concept might inform on novel combination regimens that include imatinib with immunotherapies.

Nat Rev Clin Oncol 2016; 13: 431–446. doi:10.1038/nrclinonc.2016.41


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