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Blood DOI:10.1182/blood-2005-02-0488

Gefitinib induces myeloid differentiation of acute myeloid leukemia.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsStegmaier, K, Corsello, SM, Ross, KN, Wong, JS, DeAngelo, DJ, Golub, TR
Date Published2005/10/15

Cure rates for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remain low despite ever-increasing dose intensity of cytotoxic therapy. In an effort to identify novel approaches to AML therapy, we recently reported a new method of chemical screening based on the modulation of a gene expression signature of interest. We applied this approach to the discovery of AML-differentiation-promoting compounds. Among the compounds inducing neutrophilic differentiation was DAPH1 (4,5-dianilinophthalimide), previously reported to inhibit epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) kinase activity. Here we report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved EGFR inhibitor gefitinib similarly promotes the differentiation of AML cell lines and primary patient-derived AML blasts in vitro. Gefitinib induced differentiation based on morphologic assessment, nitro-blue tetrazolium reduction, cell-surface markers, genome-wide patterns of gene expression, and inhibition of proliferation at clinically achievable doses. Importantly, EGFR expression was not detected in AML cells, indicating that gefitinib functions through a previously unrecognized EGFR-independent mechanism. These studies indicate that clinical trials testing the efficacy of gefitinib in patients with AML are warranted.