Unmet Medical Needs Remain in the AML Treatment Landscape

Marcin Kortylewski, PhD, discusses the need for additional strategies for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia.

Marcin Kortylewski, PhD, a professor in the Department of Immuno-Oncology at the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, discusses the need for additional strategies for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

According to Kortylewski, AML has one of the highest unmet needs for new therapies of any human cancer. AML tends to be rapidly progressing and is very heterogeneous. This means that is very difficult to target the genetics of leukemia cells as their background is very diverse. Once initial strategies fail, there is little left to be done except for bone marrow transplantation, which is not available for all patients.

For recurrent leukemias, even new strategies such as immunotherapies and chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells already present their own challenges. According to Kortylewski, this is because CAR T cells are directed against molecules on myeloid leukemia cells often shared with normal myeloid cells. The elimination of dendritic cells and macrophages can be life threatening. This is why CAR T cells have had little success in this area.