Chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) can be controlled for years with the tyrosine kinase inhibitor imatinib but because imatinib poorly penetrates the blood-brain barrier (BBB), on occasion, the CML clone will thrive and evolve to an accelerated phase in the resulting imatinib sanctuary within the central nervous system. In this, CML resembles glioblastoma in that imatinib, which otherwise may be effective, cannot get to the tumor. Although a common street drug of abuse, methamphetamine is Food and Drug Administration-approved and marketed as a pharmaceutical drug to treat attention-deficit disorders. It has shown the ability to open the BBB in rodents. We have some clinical hints that it may do so in humans as well. This short note presents three new points potentially leading to better tyrosine kinase inhibition behind the BBB: 1) Pharmaceutical methamphetamine may have a useful role in treating both CML and glioblastoma by allowing higher imatinib concentrations behind the BBB. 2) The old antidepressant and monoamine oxidase inhibitor selegiline, used to treat Parkinson disease, is catabolized to methamphetamine. Selegiline, as a nonscheduled drug,may therefore be an easier way to open the BBB, allowing more effective chemotherapy with tyrosine kinases. 3) Dasatinib is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor with a spectrum of inhibition only partially overlapping that of imatinib and a mechanism of tyrosine kinase inhibition that is different from that of imatinib. The two should be additive. In addition, dasatinib crosses the BBB poorly, and it can therefore be expected to benefit from methamphetamine-assisted entry.
Is this trying to imply that there are CML parent cells somewhere behid the blood brain barrier?