Skip to main content

Can Combining These Two Drugs Safely Improve CML Response?

December 29, 2016

In a study published in Cancer, a team of French researchers suggest that pioglitazone in combination with imatinib may safely improve outcomes for patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).


Related Content

Does Pioglitazone Increase Bladder Cancer Risk?

Reducing Diabetes Progression: Quiz


After finding that peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ agonists target chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) quiescent stem cells, investigators led by Phillippe Rousselot, MD, PhD, Université Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Université Paris Saclay (Le Chesnay, France), conducted a clinical trial assessing whether pioglitazone add-on therapy to imatinib could impact CML residual disease.

For the trial, they enrolled patients with CML who had received imatinib for at least 2 years at a stable daily dose. These patients were then given pioglitazone at a dosage of 30 to 45 mg/day in addition to regularly scheduled imatinib. The primary endpoint of the study was incidence of progression from major molecular response (MMR) to molecular response 4.5 (MR4.5) during a 12-month period.

A total of 24 patients were included in the study and administered both drugs. No pharmacological interactions were observed, but half of the patients (n=12) experienced weight gain and a mean decrease of .4 g/dL in hemoglobin concentration. Cumulative incidence of MR4.5 was 56% by 12 months, though there was considerable variance in duration. Still, 88% of 17 evaluable patients who were still on imatinib at 48 months achieved MR4.5.

Investigators estimated that incidence of progression from MMR to MR4.5 over 12 months was 23% in a parallel cohort of patients who received only imatinib.

Thus, they concluded that a combination regimen of imatinib and pioglitazone could safely improve response in patients with CML. However, they added that the results will need to be proved within a randomized clinical trial. 


Rousselot P, Prost S, Guilhot J, et al. Pioglitazone together with imatinib in chronic myeloid leukemia: A proof of concept study [Published online ahead of print December 27, 2016]. Cancer. doi 10.1002/cncr.30490.

Back to Top