The Survivors

April 25, 2017
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This is a story of survivors — of patients who were expected to die more than two decades ago but didn’t.

It was the summer of 1998, and Dr. Brian J. Druker was a few months into Phase 1, first-in-human trials of a promising compound that would later be known as Gleevec.

Druker, a researcher at Oregon Health and Science University, knew from lab studies that the drug could disable a gene that controls certain leukemia cells, while leaving healthy cells intact. But he didn’t have answers to a lot of other questions, including what dose would be beneficial.

In an earlier round of testing, patients received a lower dose that failed to stop the spread of their cancer.

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Image: By Patrick Pelletier – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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