Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) is a myeloproliferative disease caused by bcr-abl1, a constitutively active tyrosine kinase fusion gene responsible for an abnormal proliferation of leukemic stem cells (LSCs). Inhibition of BCR-ABL1 kinase activity offers long-term relief to CML patients. However, for a proportion of them, BCR-ABL1 inhibition will become ineffective at treating the disease, and CML will progress to blast crisis (BC) CML with poor prognosis. BC-CML is often associated with excessive phosphorylated eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), which renders LSCs capable of proliferating via self-renewal, oblivious to BCR-ABL1 inhibition. In vivo, eIF4E is exclusively phosphorylated on Ser209 by MNK1/2. Consequently, a selective inhibitor of MNK1/2 should reduce the level of phosphorylated eIF4E and re-sensitize LSCs to BCR-ABL1 inhibition, thus hindering the proliferation of BC LSCs. We report herein the structure–activity relationships and pharmacokinetic properties of a selective MNK1/2 inhibitor clinical candidate, ETC-206, which in combination with dasatinib prevents BC-CML LSC self-renewal in vitro and enhances dasatinib antitumor activity in vivo.