So... when we were diagnosed with CML, our bone marrows have a lot of Pluripotent CML stem cells. These cells make red blood, platelets, & white blood cells and the white cells in particular grow unchecked. We take a TKI and they kill the progenitor cells but not the stem cells. So many of us go into myelosuppression because we do not have a large enough population of normal stem cells from which normal myeloid cells originate. Do I have it so far?
Then - over time - long time - the Pluripotent CML stem cells die off. They divide to make more and in division expose themselves to the TKI and get killed. This creates "room" in the marrow for the normal stem cells to divide and re-populate the marrow. Correct so far?
Over time, the normal cells keep expanding, blood levels return to normal or near normal and the few remaining CML stem cells are killed off EXCEPT those that have been quiescent. Since they have not divided, they are not killed. Over many years, even they will divide and then get nailed and a patient like Trey and Susan are functionally cured.
What is interesting is that myelosuppression may be more a cell population dynamic between normal stem cells and CML stem cells than the TKI suppressing normal cells. In vitro, TKI's don't inhibit normal cells. Getting the body to re-balance therefore is the trick. Starting with a lot of leukemic stem cells is the problem. Some of us may start with a few leukemic stem cells, but a lot of progenitor cells, so when the progenitor cells get killed off, these patients have a store of normal cells to recover from.
People like Tedsey and myself probably had a lot of leukemic stem cells and not enough normal stem cells. And it takes a long time for the recovery of normal stem cells to re-populate the marrow.
I am writing this because it is becoming clear that it is the stem cell population in the marrow that is the critical issue. Kill the bad stem cells and cure is possible (i.e. drink lots of quinine water?). Start off with a leukemic stem cell marrow and myelosuppression is the result as TKI's kill off the dividing CML progenitors. Start off with relatively fewer leukemic stem cells and quick remission is possible (mutations notwithstanding). I have not been able to find any literature on cell population dynamics in the bone marrow.
It's all about the stem cells in the bone marrow. Even if CML progenitor cells are dividing - killing the CML stem cells will pull the foundation out and the leukemic population will collapse (progenitor Leukemic cells do die - it just takes longer). Trey - do you concur?