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A pill 'melts away' common form of leukemia
Date:1/23/2014

nters in five countries tested a combination of two targeted drugs medications that attack cancer without damaging healthy cells. They compared rituximab and idelalisib against rituximab and a placebo pill in 220 CLL patients who could not receive chemotherapy.

They found that those who received the combination of idelalsib and rituximab went longer without their disease worsening than those who received only rituximab, which has been the standard of care. Six months into the study, cancers in 93 percent of participants in the combination therapy group had not worsened, compared to 46 percent of those in the rituximab plus placebo group.

What's more, just 13 percent of patients treated with rituximab alone responded to the therapy, compared to 81 percent of the participants in the idelalisib treatment group. A higher percentage of patients who received both drugs some 92 percent were still alive a year after the study began, compared to 80 percent of those who only received rituximab. About the same percentage of patients in each group suffered side effects from the treatments.

The contrast was so significant that an independent data-monitoring committee halted the study early, in October 2013, so that all of the study participants could receive idelalisib.

"We saw incredible responses in patients who used idelalisib. Their cancer quickly melted away," says Dr. Furman, who is also director of Weill Cornell's CLL Research Center and an associate professor of medicine. "These types of responses were even seen in patients who didn't respond to chemotherapy."

Chemotherapy-resistant patients are typically the most difficult patients to treat. "It is remarkable how quickly idelalisib worked in this heavily treated group of patients, many of whom were resistant to chemotherapy. We saw responses within a week," Dr. Furman says.

Previous studies led by Weill Cornell Medical College have shown equally significant res
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Contact: Jen Gundersen
jeg2034@med.cornell.edu
646-317-7402
Weill Cornell Medical College
Source:Eurekalert

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