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Santaris Pharma Presents Positive Clinical Data on SPC2996 in,Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia

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Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia

Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) is the most common form of leukaemia in adults in western Europe and North America, new cases occurring at an annual incidence of 3 to 5 per 100,000 persons in the population. The condition occurs primarily in older people with a median age at diagnosis of 66 years. Men are twice as likely as women to develop the disease. The clinical course of the condition varies widely with some patients showing rapid disease progression and early death, despite intensive chemotherapy, and others surviving for decades without any treatment. CLL is characterised by excessive numbers of functionally incompetent long-lived B-lymphocytes (small white blood cells) circulating in the blood, sometimes also causing swelling of lymph nodes, spleen and other organs. The failure of these cancerous B-CLL cells to die is generally thought to be due at least in part to over expression of the Bcl-2 gene characteristic of the disease.

About Bcl-2

The protein Bcl-2, first identified in B-cell lymphoma/leukaemia cells from which its name derives, is one of a family of intracellular proteins regulating cell survival and cell death. Some types of cells in the body, for example blood cells, are programmed to die after a few weeks of life, in the case of blood cells to be replaced in the circulation by fresh cells produced in the bone marrow. This process of programmed cell death is known as apoptosis. Bcl-2 is an apoptosis suppressor protein, i.e. it extends the lifespan of the cell in the presence of normal apoptosis stimuli. The levels of Bcl-2 within the cell are frequently over-expressed in malignant cancers, and this is particularly the case in human chronic lymphocytic leukaemia and lymphoma where it acts to prolong the life of malignant white blood cells. Drugs which lower the concentration of Bcl-2 or inhibit its function may therefore have therapeutic benefit by inducing cance
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