The most novel of the novel agents for acute myeloid leukemia

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Purpose of review

Precious few drugs were successfully developed for acute myeloid leukemia (AML) over the past decades, despite a dramatic expansion of our understanding of its molecular underpinnings during this time. Then in 2017, a wave of new drugs suddenly became approved. This review serves to introduce the newly available drugs, discuss their impact upon therapy, and highlight additional novel agents that are waiting in the wings.

Recent findings

Newly approved agents in AML include a tyrosine kinase inhibitor for patients with FMS-like tyrosine kinase 3 (FLT3) mutations, an inhibitor of mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH2), and two novel agents using antibody-delivered or liposome-delivered cytotoxics. All of these new agents have demonstrable activity in AML and several have improved survival in randomized studies. In addition to these agents, promising data from other inhibitors of FLT3, IDH1, and B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2) will be discussed.


Response, survival, and symptom burden of AML therapy are all improving through novel agents. As many of the newly approved drugs benefit-specific genetic subsets, a new priority has emerged to increase the speed of diagnostic genomic studies as a means to guide frontline therapy. This will ensure patients are optimally categorized and treated with to the most rational agents.

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