Myeloproliferative disorders (MPDs) are clonal malignancies that arise from hematopoietic progenitors and characterized by overproduction of mature, functional blood cells. These disorders can be broadly characterized into Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph(+)) or negative (Ph(−)) genetic groupings. Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a Ph(+) MPD that is defined on the basis of its molecular lesion, the BCR-ABL fusion gene. Inhibitors directed at the constitutive kinase activity of BCR-ABL have been shown to be disease modifying in CML and have dramatically altered the standard of care for this leukemia. The three main Ph(−) MPDs are polycythemia vera (PV), essential thrombocythemia (ET) and primary myelofibrosis (PMF). The key features of these Ph(−) MPDs are an increased red blood cell mass in PV, a high platelet count in ET and bone marrow fibrosis in PMF, respectively. These disorders also share many clinical features such as long clinical course, increased risk for thrombosis, hemorrhage and elevated risk of leukemic transformation. Interest in these disorders has been ignited by the recent discovery of activating mutations in the tyrosine kinase gene, JAK2, in the predominance of Ph(−) MPD patients and has highlighted JAK2 as a therapeutic intervention point for drug discovery efforts with selective kinase inhibitors. This review will focus on the comparison of Ph(+) and Ph(−) MPDs, drug discovery and development efforts targeting these disorders, and will assess the new opportunities for targeted therapies for these diseases.
Oncogene (2009) 28, 2305-2313; doi:10.1038/onc.2009.107; published online 4 May 2009