Randomized studies with interferon in chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and comparative molecular aspects

R. Hehlmann, A. Willer, H. Heimpel, J. Hasford, H. J. Kolb, H. Pralle, D. K. Hossfeld, W. Queißer, H. Löffler, A. Hochhaus, A. Tobler, E. Lengfelder, U. Berger, C. Leib-Mösch

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8 Scopus citations


Four randomized prospective studies on interferon alpha (IFN) in CML report varying degrees of prolongation of the chronic phase of CML and of survival as compared to conventional therapies. There is agreement that IFN prolongs survival as compared to standard busulfan. There is disagreement, however, as to which degree IFN is superior to hydroxyurea. Whereas the randomized studies of the Italian cooperative group and of the British MRC find a statistically significant survival advantage of IFN over hydroxyurea of about 20 months, this difference is only 10 months in the German randomized study and not significant. One reason for this difference might be the more intensive treatment schedule for the hydroxyurea control group in the German study. Other reasons might be differences in risk profiles between the patient groups studied and in strategies of IFN therapy. About 1% of the human genome consists of retroviral or retroviral-like sequences. By analogy to animal models, endogenous retroviruses might also have pathogenic potential in human disease. The transposon-like structure of retroviruses that enables them to integrate at almost any position in the host genome and the capability of retroviruses to serve as efficient vehicles of cellular genes are in support of a pathogenic potential. Furthermore, particles resembling retroviruses have been observed long ago in human embryonic and malignant tissues and cell lines. Sequence information and the transcriptional activity of the endogenous sequences argue against the possibility that these sequences are only fossil relics of early evolutionary periods. Most of the sequences appear to be inactivated by stop codons or frameshifts, making the genomic localization of open reading frames with biological activity difficult. Up to now, mutagenesis by insertion of retroviral-like sequences in sporadic cases of human disease appears to be the only example of pathogenic relevance of retroviruses in man.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)506-511
Number of pages6
Issue numberSUPPL. 3
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


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