Special Issue "Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia"

A special issue of Journal of Clinical Medicine (ISSN 2077-0383). This special issue belongs to the section "Hematology".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Sébastien Anguille
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Antwerp University Hospital, Division of Hematology and Center for Cell Therapy & Regenerative Medicine, Antwerp, Belgium
2. University of Antwerp, Vaccine & Infectious Disease Institute, Laboratory of Experimental Hematology, Tumor Immunology Group, Antwerp, Belgium
Interests: acute myeloid leukemia; immunotherapy; dendritic cell vaccines; CAR-T cells
Dr. Roland B. Walter
E-Mail Website
Co-Guest Editor
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA, USA
Interests: acute myeloid leukemia; antibody-based therapy; CD33; clinical trials; minimal residual disease
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The prognosis of adult patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) remains poor. The 5-year overall survival rate of AML is approximately 25%, a statistic that has largely remained unchanged over the last decades. In recent years, we have witnessed the advent of several new treatments including targeted therapies, monoclonal antibodies and other immunotherapies. The rapid discovery of novel treatments along with advances in supportive care justify the expectation that the outcomes of AML patients can be finally improved in the near future.

The focus of this Special Issue is to highlight these new advances in the treatment of AML.

Dr. Sébastien Anguille
Dr. Roland B. Walter
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • acute myeloid leukemia
  • targeted therapies
  • immunotherapy
  • vaccines
  • monoclonal antibodies
  • gene-modified T cells

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Article
Absence of BCL-2 Expression Identifies a Subgroup of AML with Distinct Phenotypic, Molecular, and Clinical Characteristics
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(10), 3090; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9103090 - 25 Sep 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 798
Abstract
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematologic malignancy characterized by the rapid and uncontrolled clonal growth of myeloid lineage cells in the bone marrow. The advent of oral, selective inhibitors of the B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) apoptosis pathway, such as venetoclax, will likely induce [...] Read more.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a hematologic malignancy characterized by the rapid and uncontrolled clonal growth of myeloid lineage cells in the bone marrow. The advent of oral, selective inhibitors of the B-cell leukemia/lymphoma-2 (BCL-2) apoptosis pathway, such as venetoclax, will likely induce a paradigm shift in the treatment of AML. However, the high cost of this treatment and the risk of additive toxicity when used in combination with standard chemotherapy represent limitations to its use and underscore the need to identify which patients are most—and least—likely to benefit from incorporation of venetoclax into the treatment regimen. Bone marrow specimens from 93 newly diagnosed AML patients were collected in this study and evaluated for BCL-2 protein expression by immunohistochemistry. Using this low-cost, easily, and readily applicable analysis method, we found that 1 in 5 AML patients can be considered as BCL-2. In addition to a lower bone marrow blast percentage, this group exhibited a favorable molecular profile characterized by lower WT1 expression and underrepresentation of FLT3 mutations. As compared to their BCL-2+ counterparts, the absence of BCL-2 expression was associated with a favorable response to standard chemotherapy and overall survival, thus potentially precluding the necessity for venetoclax add-on. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Article
Association Analysis of TP53 rs1042522, MDM2 rs2279744, rs3730485, MDM4 rs4245739 Variants and Acute Myeloid Leukemia Susceptibility, Risk Stratification Scores, and Clinical Features: An Exploratory Study
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(6), 1672; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061672 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 735
Abstract
This study aimed to explore the associations between the TP53 rs1042522 (TP53 Arg72Pro), MDM2 rs2279744 (MDM2 309T>G), rs3730485 (MDM2 del1518), MDM4 rs4245739 (MDM4 34091 C>A) variants and odds of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in a cohort of 809 adult subjects, [...] Read more.
This study aimed to explore the associations between the TP53 rs1042522 (TP53 Arg72Pro), MDM2 rs2279744 (MDM2 309T>G), rs3730485 (MDM2 del1518), MDM4 rs4245739 (MDM4 34091 C>A) variants and odds of developing acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in a cohort of 809 adult subjects, consisting of 406 healthy controls and 403 AML patients. Model-based multifactor dimensionality reduction (MB-MDR) framework was used to identify the interactions of the mentioned variants and their association with AML risk. Associations of the mentioned variants with clinical features of AML, somatic mutations, and response to treatment were also evaluated. Significant associations between TP53 rs1042522 and MDM4 rs4245739 variants and AML susceptibility were noticed. MB-MDR and logistic regression analysis revealed an interaction between MDM2 rs2279744 and TP53 rs1042522, between MDM4 rs4245739 and MDM2 rs3730485, as well as significant associations with AML susceptibility. Several associations between the mentioned variants and clinical features of AML and somatic mutations were also noticed. Individually, the variant genotypes of TP53 rs1042522 and MDM4 rs4245739 were associated with AML susceptibility, but their interaction with MDM2 rs2279744 and rs3730485 modulated the risk for AML. The variant genotypes of TP53 rs1042522 were associated with adverse molecular and cytogenetic risk and also with NPM1 mutations. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Article
A Mortality Prediction Rule for Hematology Patients with Invasive Aspergillosis Based on Serum Galactomannan Kinetics
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(2), 610; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9020610 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1074
Abstract
In invasive aspergillosis (IA), an early and adequate assessment of the response to the initial antifungal therapy remains problematic. We retrospectively analyzed 206 hematology patients with proven or probable IA, and collected serial serum galactomannan (sGM) values and survival status through week 6 [...] Read more.
In invasive aspergillosis (IA), an early and adequate assessment of the response to the initial antifungal therapy remains problematic. We retrospectively analyzed 206 hematology patients with proven or probable IA, and collected serial serum galactomannan (sGM) values and survival status through week 6 and week 12. We created a model for survival at week 6 based on the sGM taken at baseline and on early sGM kinetics. This resulted in a rule predicting that patients with a baseline sGM index >1.4, who failed to lower that index to <0.5 after one week, had a mortality rate of 48.1% at week 6. Conversely, patients presenting with a baseline sGM index ≤1.4 that obtained a negative sGM (<0.5) after one week, had a mortality that was almost five times lower at only 10.1% by week 6. These findings were confirmed in an external cohort from an independent prospective study. In conclusion, sGM kinetics correlate well with treatment outcomes in hematology patients with IA. We present a rule which is easy to use at the bedside and has good accuracy in predicting week 6 survival. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Article
Comparison of High-Dose Cytarabine, Mitoxantrone, and Pegaspargase (HAM-pegA) to High-Dose Cytarabine, Mitoxantrone, Cladribine, and Filgrastim (CLAG-M) as First-Line Salvage Cytotoxic Chemotherapy for Relapsed/Refractory Acute Myeloid Leukemia
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(2), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9020536 - 16 Feb 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1181
Abstract
Currently, no standard of care exists for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We present our institutional experience with using either CLAG-M or HAM-pegA, a novel regimen that includes pegaspargase. This is a retrospective comparison of 34 patients receiving [...] Read more.
Currently, no standard of care exists for the treatment of relapsed or refractory acute myeloid leukemia (AML). We present our institutional experience with using either CLAG-M or HAM-pegA, a novel regimen that includes pegaspargase. This is a retrospective comparison of 34 patients receiving CLAG-M and 10 receiving HAM-pegA as first salvage cytotoxic chemotherapy in the relapsed or refractory setting. Composite complete response rates were 47.1% for CLAG-M and 90% for HAM-pegA (p = 0.027). Event-free survival was significantly different in favor of HAM-pegA (p = 0.045), though overall survival was similar between groups. There were no significant differences in toxicities experienced by patients treated with the two regimens, including adverse events of special interest related to pegaspargase (venous thromboembolism, hemorrhage, hepatotoxicity, pancreatitis, and hypersensitivity reactions). HAM-pegA is a novel regimen for relapsed or refractory AML that resulted in improved response rates and similar toxicities compared to CLAG-M. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Article
Highly Sensitive Detection of IDH2 Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(1), 271; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9010271 - 19 Jan 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1438
Abstract
Background: Acute myeloid leukemia is a heterogeneous hematological disease, characterized by karyotypic and molecular alterations. Mutations in IDH2 have a role in diagnosis and as a minimal residue disease marker. Often the variant allele frequency during follow up is less than 20%, which [...] Read more.
Background: Acute myeloid leukemia is a heterogeneous hematological disease, characterized by karyotypic and molecular alterations. Mutations in IDH2 have a role in diagnosis and as a minimal residue disease marker. Often the variant allele frequency during follow up is less than 20%, which represents the limit of detection of Sanger sequencing. Therefore, the development of sensitive methodologies to identify IDH2 mutations might help to monitor patients’ response to therapy. We compared three different methods to identify and monitor IDH2 mutations in patients’ specimens. Methods: Performances of PNA-PCR clamping, droplet digital PCR and Sanger for IDH2 status identification were evaluated and compared in 96 DNA patients’ specimens. Results: In contrast with Sanger sequencing, our results highlighted the concordance between PNA clamping and digital PCR. Furthermore, PNA-PCR clamping was able to detect more mutated DNA with respect to Sanger sequencing that showed several false negatives independently from the allelic frequency. Conclusions: We found that PNA-PCR clamping and digital PCR identified IDH2 mutations in DNA samples with comparable results in a percentage significantly higher compared to Sanger sequencing. PNA-PCR clamping can be used even in laboratories not equipped for sophisticated analyses, decreasing cost and time for IDH2 characterization. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review

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Review
Incidence of Differentiation Syndrome Associated with Treatment Regimens in Acute Myeloid Leukemia: A Systematic Review of the Literature
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(10), 3342; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9103342 - 18 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1095
Abstract
Differentiation syndrome (DS) is a potentially fatal adverse drug reaction caused by the so-called differentiating agents such as all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (ATO), used for remission induction in the treatment of the M3 subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute [...] Read more.
Differentiation syndrome (DS) is a potentially fatal adverse drug reaction caused by the so-called differentiating agents such as all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA) and arsenic trioxide (ATO), used for remission induction in the treatment of the M3 subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML), acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL). However, recent DS reports in trials of isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH)-inhibitor drugs in patients with IDH-mutated AML have raised concerns. Given the limited knowledge of the incidence of DS with differentiating agents, we conducted a systematic literature review of clinical trials with reports of DS to provide a comprehensive overview of the medications associated with DS. In particular, we focused on the incidence of DS reported among the IDH-inhibitors, compared to existing ATRA and ATO therapies. We identified 44 published articles, encompassing 39 clinical trials, including 6949 patients. Overall, the cumulative incidence of DS across all treatment regimens was 17.7%. Incidence of DS was notably lower in trials with IDH-inhibitors (10.4%) compared to other regimens, including ATRA and/or ATO (15.4–20.6%). Compared to other therapies, the median time to onset was four times longer with IDH-inhibitors (48 vs. 11 days). Treating oncologists should be mindful of this potentially fatal adverse drug reaction, as we expect the current trials represent an underestimation of the actual incidence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
Targeting PI3K/Akt/mTOR in AML: Rationale and Clinical Evidence
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(9), 2934; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9092934 - 11 Sep 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2077
Abstract
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a highly heterogeneous hematopoietic malignancy characterized by excessive proliferation and accumulation of immature myeloid blasts in the bone marrow. AML has a very poor 5-year survival rate of just 16% in the UK; hence, more efficacious, tolerable, and [...] Read more.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a highly heterogeneous hematopoietic malignancy characterized by excessive proliferation and accumulation of immature myeloid blasts in the bone marrow. AML has a very poor 5-year survival rate of just 16% in the UK; hence, more efficacious, tolerable, and targeted therapy is required. Persistent leukemia stem cell (LSC) populations underlie patient relapse and development of resistance to therapy. Identification of critical oncogenic signaling pathways in AML LSC may provide new avenues for novel therapeutic strategies. The phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt and the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway, is often hyperactivated in AML, required to sustain the oncogenic potential of LSCs. Growing evidence suggests that targeting key components of this pathway may represent an effective treatment to kill AML LSCs. Despite this, accruing significant body of scientific knowledge, PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors have not translated into clinical practice. In this article, we review the laboratory-based evidence of the critical role of PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway in AML, and outcomes from current clinical studies using PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors. Based on these results, we discuss the putative mechanisms of resistance to PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibition, offering rationale for potential candidate combination therapies incorporating PI3K/Akt/mTOR inhibitors for precision medicine in AML. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
Measurable Residual Disease in Acute Myeloid Leukemia Using Flow Cytometry: A Review of Where We Are and Where We Are Going
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(6), 1714; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061714 - 03 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1363
Abstract
The detection of measurable residual disease (MRD) has become a key investigation that plays a role in the prognostication and management of several hematologic malignancies. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults and the role of MRD in [...] Read more.
The detection of measurable residual disease (MRD) has become a key investigation that plays a role in the prognostication and management of several hematologic malignancies. Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is the most common acute leukemia in adults and the role of MRD in AML is still emerging. Prognostic markers are complex, largely based upon genetic and cytogenetic aberrations. MRD is now being incorporated into prognostic models and is a powerful predictor of relapse. While PCR-based MRD methods are sensitive and specific, many patients do not have an identifiable molecular marker. Immunophenotypic MRD methods using multiparametric flow cytometry (MFC) are widely applicable, and are based on the identification of surface marker combinations that are present on leukemic cells but not normal hematopoietic cells. Current techniques include a “different from normal” and/or a “leukemia-associated immunophenotype” approach. Limitations of MFC-based MRD analyses include the lack of standardization, the reliance on a high-quality marrow aspirate, and variable sensitivity. Emerging techniques that look to improve the detection of leukemic cells use dimensional reduction analysis, incorporating more leukemia specific markers and identifying leukemic stem cells. This review will discuss current methods together with new and emerging techniques to determine the role of MFC MRD analysis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
The Neurokinin-1 Receptor Antagonist Aprepitant, a New Drug for the Treatment of Hematological Malignancies: Focus on Acute Myeloid Leukemia
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(6), 1659; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9061659 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1163
Abstract
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous hematological malignancy. To treat the disease successfully, new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. One of these strategies can be the use of neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) antagonists (e.g., aprepitant), because the substance P (SP)/NK-1R system is involved [...] Read more.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a heterogeneous hematological malignancy. To treat the disease successfully, new therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. One of these strategies can be the use of neurokinin-1 receptor (NK-1R) antagonists (e.g., aprepitant), because the substance P (SP)/NK-1R system is involved in cancer progression, including AML. AML patients show an up-regulation of the NK-1R mRNA expression; human AML cell lines show immunoreactivity for both SP and the NK-1R (it is overexpressed: the truncated isoform is more expressed than the full-length form) and, via this receptor, SP and NK-1R antagonists (aprepitant, in a concentration-dependent manner) respectively exert a proliferative action or an antileukemic effect (apoptotic mechanisms are triggered by promoting oxidative stress via mitochondrial Ca++ overload). Aprepitant inhibits the formation of AML cell colonies and, in combination with chemotherapeutic drugs, is more effective in inducing cytotoxic effects and AML cell growth blockade. NK-1R antagonists also exert an antinociceptive effect in myeloid leukemia-induced bone pain. The antitumor effect of aprepitant is diminished when the NF-κB pathway is overactivated and the damage induced by aprepitant in cancer cells is higher than that exerted in non-cancer cells. Thus, the SP/NK-1R system is involved in AML, and aprepitant is a promising antitumor strategy against this hematological malignancy. In this review, the involvement of this system in solid and non-solid tumors (in particular in AML) is updated and the use of aprepitant as an anti-leukemic strategy for the treatment of AML is also mentioned (a dose of aprepitant (>20 mg/kg/day) for a period of time according to the response to treatment is suggested). Aprepitant is currently used in clinical practice as an anti-nausea medication. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
Location First: Targeting Acute Myeloid Leukemia Within Its Niche
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(5), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9051513 - 18 May 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1657
Abstract
Despite extensive research and development of new treatments, acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-backbone therapy has remained essentially unchanged over the last decades and is frequently associated with poor outcomes. Eradicating the leukemic stem cells (LSCs) is the ultimate challenge in the treatment of AML. [...] Read more.
Despite extensive research and development of new treatments, acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-backbone therapy has remained essentially unchanged over the last decades and is frequently associated with poor outcomes. Eradicating the leukemic stem cells (LSCs) is the ultimate challenge in the treatment of AML. Emerging evidence suggests that AML remodels the bone marrow (BM) niche into a leukemia-permissive microenvironment while suppressing normal hematopoiesis. The mechanism of stromal-mediated protection of leukemic cells in the BM is complex and involves many adhesion molecules, chemokines, and cytokines. Targeting these factors may represent a valuable approach to complement existing therapies and overcome microenvironment-mediated drug resistance. Some strategies for dislodging LSCs and leukemic blasts from their protective niche have already been tested in patients and are in different phases of the process of clinical development. Other strategies, such as targeting the stromal cells remodeling processes, remain at pre-clinical stages. Development of humanized xenograft mouse models, which overcome the mismatch between human leukemia cells and the mouse BM niche, is required to generate physiologically relevant, patient-specific human niches in mice that can be used to unravel the role of human AML microenvironment and to carry out preclinical studies for the development of new targeted therapies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
Landscape of Tumor Suppressor Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(3), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9030802 - 16 Mar 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 2665
Abstract
Acute myeloid leukemia is mainly characterized by a complex and dynamic genomic instability. Next-generation sequencing has significantly improved the ability of diagnostic research to molecularly characterize and stratify patients. This detailed outcome allowed the discovery of new therapeutic targets and predictive biomarkers, which [...] Read more.
Acute myeloid leukemia is mainly characterized by a complex and dynamic genomic instability. Next-generation sequencing has significantly improved the ability of diagnostic research to molecularly characterize and stratify patients. This detailed outcome allowed the discovery of new therapeutic targets and predictive biomarkers, which led to develop novel compounds (e.g., IDH 1 and 2 inhibitors), nowadays commonly used for the treatment of adult relapsed or refractory AML. In this review we summarize the most relevant mutations affecting tumor suppressor genes that contribute to the onset and progression of AML pathology. Epigenetic modifications (TET2, IDH1 and IDH2, DNMT3A, ASXL1, WT1, EZH2), DNA repair dysregulation (TP53, NPM1), cell cycle inhibition and deficiency in differentiation (NPM1, CEBPA, TP53 and GATA2) as a consequence of somatic mutations come out as key elements in acute myeloid leukemia and may contribute to relapse and resistance to therapies. Moreover, spliceosomal machinery mutations identified in the last years, even if in a small cohort of acute myeloid leukemia patients, suggested a new opportunity to exploit therapeutically. Targeting these cellular markers will be the main challenge in the near future in an attempt to eradicate leukemia stem cells. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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Review
Is Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Required to Unleash the Full Potential of Immunotherapy in Acute Myeloid Leukemia?
J. Clin. Med. 2020, 9(2), 554; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm9020554 - 18 Feb 2020
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1619
Abstract
From monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells, immunotherapies have enhanced the efficacy of treatments against B cell malignancies. The same has not been true for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Hematologic toxicity has limited the potential of modern immunotherapies for [...] Read more.
From monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) to Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cells, immunotherapies have enhanced the efficacy of treatments against B cell malignancies. The same has not been true for Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML). Hematologic toxicity has limited the potential of modern immunotherapies for AML at preclinical and clinical levels. Gemtuzumab Ozogamicin has demonstrated hematologic toxicity, but the challenge of preserving normal hematopoiesis has become more apparent with the development of increasingly potent immunotherapies. To date, no single surface molecule has been identified that is able to differentiate AML from Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells (HSPC). Attempts have been made to spare hematopoiesis by targeting molecules expressed only on later myeloid progenitors as well as AML or using toxins that selectively kill AML over HSPC. Other strategies include targeting aberrantly expressed lymphoid molecules or only targeting monocyte-associated proteins in AML with monocytic differentiation. Recently, some groups have accepted that stem cell transplantation is required to access potent AML immunotherapy and envision it as a rescue to avoid severe hematologic toxicity. Whether it will ever be possible to differentiate AML from HSPC using surface molecules is unclear. Unless true specific AML surface targets are discovered, stem cell transplantation could be required to harness the true potential of immunotherapy in AML. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Acute Myeloid Leukemia)
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