McGill researchers to test new leukemia drug


Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a malignant cancer of the blood that affects people of all ages. While treatment is available for most of these patients, approximately 20 percent of them do not respond to it. Researchers at McGill teaching hospitals will soon study the effects of a new alternative therapy.

"Gleevec (TM) has become the standard treatment for CML," says Dr. Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini, Canada Research Chair in Oncology at McGill University. "It is remarkably effective for most patients; however, some become resistant to it. We will be looking at a new drug called BMS-354825. Initial analyses of this compound are positive and the side effects are minimal, especially when compared to those of chemotherapy."

The new research is planned to start in January at McGill University teaching hospitals, the only institutes in Canada where this treatment will be available. The hospitals that will test BMS-354825 include the Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital, the McGill University Health Centre and St. Mary's Hospital. Five different treatment scenarios will be tested. Three of these will include patients with chronic or accelerated-phase CML, and will be supervised by Dr. Gambacorti-Passerini at the Jewish General Hospital. The two other scenarios will include patients with acute forms of leukemia and will be directed by Dr. Pierre Laneuville, Director of Hematology at the McGill University Health Centre.

"Running these innovative clinical studies is an invaluable opportunity for both the university and our patients — who may benefit from participation and access to this treatment," stated Dr. Gerald Batist, Chairman of Oncology at McGill.

About McGill University

McGill University is Canada's leading research-intensive university and has earned an international reputation for scholarly achievement and scientific discovery. Founded in 1821, McGill has 21 faculties and professional schools which offer more than 300 programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level. McGill attracts renowned professors and researchers from around the world and top students from more than 150 countries, creating one of the most dynamic and diverse education environments in North America. There are approximately 23,000 undergraduate students and 7,000 graduate students. It is one of two Canadian members of the American Association of Universities. McGill's two campuses are located in Montreal, Canada.

About the Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital

The Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital is an acute care McGill University teaching hospital with 637 beds, serving patients from across the province of Quebec and beyond. With a history of more than 70 years of service, the hospital is committed to the highest standards of patient care, teaching and research, and has earned a reputation for excellence in many clinical specialties, including cardiology, neonatology, family medicine, oncology, aging and emergency medicine.

About the McGill University Health Centre

The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) is a comprehensive academic health institution with an international reputation for excellence in clinical programs, research and teaching. The MUHC is a merger of five teaching hospitals affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University — the Montreal Children's, Montreal General, Royal Victoria, and Montreal Neurological Hospitals, as well as the Montreal Chest Institute. Building on the tradition of medical leadership of the founding hospitals, the goal of the MUHC is to provide patient care based on the most advanced knowledge in the health care field, and to contribute to the development of new knowledge.


Dr. Gerald Batist
Chairman of Oncology at McGill
Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital

Dr. Carlo Gambacorti-Passerini
Canada Research Chair in Oncology at McGill
Sir Mortimer B. Davis – Jewish General Hospital

Dr. Pierre Laneuville
Director of Hematology, McGill University Health Centre

Contact Information

Ian Popple
McGill University Health Centre
Office Phone: 
514-934-1934 ext. 36419