A second-generation cancer drug offers one last shot at life for leukemia patients who have not been helped by the “miracle” drug Gleevec, doctors reported on Thursday.

Tests on mice show the experimental drug overcomes virtually all of the genetic mutations that cause some cancers to resist treatment with Gleevec, the researchers report.

Gleevec, made by Swiss drug company Novartis AG and sold in Europe under the name Glivec, was the first “targeted” cancer drug.

The findings, published in Friday’s issue of the journal Science, add to evidence that precisely targeted cancer drugs can be designed quickly and rushed into testing for the most desperate cancer patients.

Unpublished findings, which the researchers may not discuss, suggest the new drug is working safely and in some cases dramatically in some chronic myeloid leukemia patients who had run out of options.

“We hope this represents another viable treatment option for patients with this disease,” said Dr. Neil Shah of the University of California Los Angeles, who worked on the study. “There may now be hope beyond Gleevec should their disease relapse.”

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