Early clinical observations on the use of imatinib mesylate in FOP: A report of seven cases

Frederick S. Kaplan, Jeffrey R. Andolina, Peter C. Adamson, David T. Teachey, Jerry Z. Finklestein, David H. Ebb, Benjamin Whitehead, Benjamin Jacobs, David M. Siegel, Richard Keen, Edward Hsiao, Robert J. Pignolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) is an ultrarare genetic disorder of progressive, disabling heterotopic ossification (HO) for which there is presently no definitive treatment. Research studies have identified multiple potential targets for therapy in FOP, and novel drug candidates are being developed for testing in clinical trials. A complementary approach seeks to identify approved drugs that could be re-purposed for off-label use against defined targets in FOP. One such drug is imatinib mesylate, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor originally developed for use in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). Imatinib has the desirable effect of attacking multiple targets involved in the early hypoxic and inflammatory stages of FOP flare-ups, including HIF1-α PDGFRα c-KIT, and multiple MAP kinases. Results: Based on compelling biologic rationale, strong preclinical data, and a favorable safety profile, imatinib has been prescribed on an off-label basis in a non-trial setting in seven children with continuous FOP flare-ups, predominantly in the axial regions, and which were not responsive to standard-of-care regimens. Anecdotal reports in these seven isolated cases document that the medication was well-tolerated with a ubiquitous reported decrease in the intensity of flare-ups in the six children who took the medication. Conclusions: These early clinical observations support the implementation of clinical trials in children with uncontrolled FOP flare-ups to determine if imatinib may ameliorate symptoms or alter the natural history of this debilitating and life-threatening disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • ACVR1
  • Bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) signaling
  • Fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP)
  • HIF1-α
  • Heterotopic ossification
  • Imatinib
  • PDGFRα
  • c-Kit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Physiology
  • Histology


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