Treatment of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: A new era

Effrosyni Apostolidou, Ronan Swords, Yesid Alvarado, Francis J. Giles*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


Acute lymphocytic leukaemia (ALL) is a heterogeneous group of disorders that result from the clonal proliferation and expansion of malignant lymphoid cells in the bone marrow, blood and other organs. Distinct clinicopathological ALL entities have been identified, resulting in the adoption of risk-oriented treatment approaches. Advances in ALL therapy have led to long-term survival rates of >80% in children. However, only ≈30-40% of adults achieve long-term disease-free survival. Contemporary ALL treatment programmes include induction, intensified consolidation, maintenance phases and CNS prophylaxis. The optimal treatment of Philadelphia chromosome-positive patients requires the addition of BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as imatinib, whereas allogeneic stem-cell transplantation remains the preferred approach for high-risk patients in first remission. Since only ≈38% of adult ALL patients are free of disease 5 years after diagnosis and the outcome of salvage chemotherapy is very poor (complete remission rates of 20-30%, median survival of 3-6 months), novel agents are desperately required. Of those currently in clinical studies, the outlook for sphingosomal vincristine, pegylated asparaginase (pegaspargase), liposomal annamycin, ABT-751, pemetrexed, talotrexin, nelarabine and the novel BCR-ABL kinase inhibitors is discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2153-2171
Number of pages19
Issue number15
StatePublished - 2007


  • ABT 751, therapeutic use
  • Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, treatment
  • Annamycin, therapeutic use
  • Dasatinib, therapeutic use
  • Nelarabine, therapeutic use
  • Nilotinib, therapeutic use
  • Pegaspargase, therapeutic use
  • Pemetrexed, therapeutic use

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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