Cancer Home > What Is Omacetaxine Used For?
If you have a certain type of cancer called chronic myeloid leukemia, you may receive omacetaxine. It is used for treating this type of cancer after at least two other leukemia medications have been tried without success or could not be tolerated. Omacetaxine works by preventing the formation of abnormal blood cells. It is approved for use in adults only.
Omacetaxine mepesuccinate (Synribo™) is an injectable prescription medication approved to treat chronic myeloid leukemia. It is specifically approved for use in people whose leukemia progressed after treatment with at least two medicines in a class of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, or for those who could not tolerate at least two tyrosine kinase inhibitors.
Chronic myeloid leukemia, also called chronic myelogenous leukemia, or simply CML, is a rare disease of the blood and bone marrow. It typically affects middle-aged adults, and rarely occurs in children. In people with CML, the bone marrow produces an overabundance of a type of white blood cell called granulocytes.
The granulocytes associated with CML (called leukemia cells) do not completely mature, and do not function normally. They cannot fight infection as well as normal, healthy white blood cells. They also survive longer and slowly begin to build up in the body. Over time, these leukemia cells crowd out normal, healthy red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can lead to serious problems, such as anemia, infections, and bleeding.
Chronic leukemia, such as CML, tends to progress slowly, as opposed to acute types of leukemia, which progress rapidly. People with chronic leukemia may not have symptoms for years, and symptoms usually appear gradually (see CML Symptoms for common signs of this condition).
After CML has been diagnosed, tests will be done to figure out how far the cancer has progressed. There are three phases of CML, including:
- Chronic phase
- Accelerated phase
- Blastic phase.
These phases are generally based on the number of blasts (immature blood cells) in the blood and bone marrow, and the severity of symptoms. A person can be in any one of these phases when diagnosed.
In the chronic phase, a person has little to no symptoms. The percentage of blast cells is not elevated. As CML progresses into the accelerated phase, the percentage of blast cells increases and more symptoms begin to develop, including anemia and low platelet counts. In the blastic phase, an even larger percentage of cells in the blood and bone marrow are blast cells, the leukemia has become quite aggressive, and symptoms may be significant.
(Click Phases of Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia for more information.)
Omacetaxine is approved to treat adults with chronic or accelerated-phase CML. As mentioned previously, it is used in people who could not tolerate or were unsuccessful in prior treatments with at least two tyrosine kinase inhibitor medicines. Examples of tyrosine kinase inhibitors used to treat CML include: