An Oral Janus Kinase 1 and Janus Kinase 2 Inhibitor in the Management of Myelofibrosis

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Srdan Verstovsek, MD, PhD

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Postgraduate Medicine:

Volume 125 No. 1


Clinical Features

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DOI: 10.3810/pgm.2013.01.2628
Abstract: Myelofibrosis (MF), polycythemia vera (PV), and essential thrombocythemia (ET) are referred to as the classic Philadelphia chromosome (BCR-ABL1)-negative myeloproliferative neoplasms. Although each has distinct pathologic features, all 3 display alterations in Janus kinase (JAK) signal transduction activator of transcription signaling. Myelofibrosis is the most serious of the 3, associated with shortened survival (median survival, 5–7 years); bone marrow failure with anemia; progressive splenomegaly; and chronic, burdensome symptoms, including fatigue, night sweats, itching, abdominal discomfort, loss of appetite/early satiety, unintentional weight loss, and bone, chest, and abdominal pain. Treatments for MF have been mainly palliative, with the exception of allogeneic stem cell transplantation, which, although potentially curative, is feasible only in a small subpopulation of patients. In November 2011, ruxolitinib, an inhibitor of JAK1 and JAK2, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of intermediate- or high-risk MF, including primary MF, post-PV MF, and post-ET MF. In clinical trials, ruxolitinib was shown to reduce spleen volume and improve MF-related symptoms and quality-of-life measures. Evidence also suggests that ruxolitinib therapy has a survival advantage over placebo and best available therapy. Thrombocytopenia and anemia were the most common adverse events with treatment. Ongoing trials are assessing the efficacy and safety of ruxolitinib therapy in patients with PV and ET.

Keywords: Janus kinase; myeloproliferative neoplasms; ruxolitinib; splenomegaly; JAK2 mutation