Current therapies, such as chemotherapy, intensive chemo-immunotherapy (chemotherapy combined with immunotherapy) or stem cell transplant are effective but due to the aggressive nature of these cancers, patients always relapse and eventually run out of options.
These drugs work by inhibiting Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK), a protein which plays a role in the signals that cause growth in cancerous cells. Blocking this causes the cancerous cells to die but normal cells are unaffected.
With an average survival rate of four to five years, the new developments in BTK inhibiting drugs could dramatically improve the life expectancy and quality of life for patients with terminal forms of leukaemia and lymphoma who have run out of other treatment options.
David Hodge, 74, from Plymouth, was the first in the world to be treated with this new medication and more than a year on from the start of the trial is feeling the benefits.
Prior to starting the trial in September 2012, David had only several months to live. This was due to his immune system not functioning and also following years of treatment he had become resistant to all other treatments.
Professor Rule continued: "To be brutal, David had no other option. He was resistant to other forms of treatments so I am just pleased to have been able to access this drug and offer it to him."
When asked whether this was the outcome he imagined the trial to have a year ago, Professor Rule said: "I have done a lot of drug trials in my career; this drug and its predecessor, which I was fortunate to be the first person in Europe to use - they are transformational as far as I am concerned.
"So, did I expect this to happen? No, but I was hopeful that this drug would be more effective than similar drugs we could trial.
"Normally what you expect with tri
|Contact: Andrew Gould|
University of Plymouth