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Drug combination acts against aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia
Date:12/10/2012

ATLANTA - A two-prong approach combining ibrutinib and rituximab (Rituxin) to treat aggressive chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) produced profound responses with minor side effects in a Phase 2 clinical trial at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Researchers presented the results today at the 54th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH).

"This is a patient population with a great need for more targeted therapies," said Jan Burger, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor in MD Anderson's Department of Leukemia. Burger was lead author of the study.

"Many CLL patients, especially those with indolent or non-aggressive disease, do well on the standard treatment of chemotherapy and antibodies," he said. "But for a certain subset of high-risk patients, treatment often fails, and remissions, if they are achieved, are short."

According to the National Cancer Institute's Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results database, CLL is the most common type of adult leukemia in the United States. An estimated 16,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year, and about 4,600 people will die because of the disease. Median age of diagnosis is 72, and it is more common in men than women.

Although chemotherapy combinations have improved the cure rate for CLL, side effects often are severe. A sizeable number of CLL deaths are from secondary cancers caused by treatment.

Early studies showed potential

Ibrutinib, a tyrosine kinase inhibitor that thwarts B-cell receptor signaling, is a promising new targeted therapy for mature B-cell malignancies, including certain types of myeloma and lymphoma. It has been shown to be especially effective in CLL.

Over the past two years, Phase 1/2 trials at MD Anderson and other sites showed high-risk CLL patients responded as well as low-risk patients to ibrutinib. However, the response often is lessened because of persistent lymphocytosis, an
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Contact: Scott Merville
smerville@mdanderson.org
713-516-4855
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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