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How does Bosulif work in chronic myeloid leukemia?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Pope, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 3, 2023.

Official answer


Bosulif (bosutinib monohydrate) is a small molecule chemotherapy drug used to treat adults and some children aged 1 year and older with a type of cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia (CML; also called chronic myelogenous leukemia). Bosulif isn't your typical chemotherapy drug; it's a targeted chemotherapy drug that works by stopping or slowing the growth of CML cells. It works by inhibiting the action of BCR-ABL kinase—a protein typically overproduced by CML cells, stopping or slowing the growth of CML cells. In addition to its role in targeting BCR-ABL, it also inhibits Src, Lyn and Hck, which are part of the Src family of kinases. Bosulif belongs to the class of medicines known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

What is chronic myeloid leukemia?

CML is a type of blood cancer originates within the bone marrow, affecting the blood-forming cells. Specifically, CML impacts cells within the myeloid cell line, encompassing monocytes, red blood cells, platelets, and granulocytes—key infection-fighting white blood cells. In the case of CML, these cells undergo uncontrolled growth, much like other cancer types.

CML typically arises when DNA is swapped during cell division between chromosomes 9 and 22 in a process known as translocation. This leads to a chromosome 22 that is shorter than it should be, which is called a Philadelphia chromosome. When the DNA is swapped from one chromosome to another an abnormal gene that promotes cell growth and division, called BCR-ABL, is also formed. The BCR-ABL gene makes a protein called a tyrosine kinase, which Bosulif targets.

  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.,marrow%20cell%20during%20cell%20division.
  • Isfort S, Keller-v Amsberg G, Schafhausen P, Koschmieder S, Brümmendorf TH. Bosutinib: a novel second-generation tyrosine kinase inhibitor. Recent Results Cancer Res. 2014;201:81-97. doi:10.1007/978-3-642-54490-3_4.
  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Bosulif.

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