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Study of Compound for Leukemia and Lymphoma Shows Promise

Madison, Wisconsin - Leukemia and lymphoma patients who have run out of treatment options may find new hope in the results of three clinical trials on a compound that targets a key cancer growth regulator.


“This study offers a strong foundation for future research on idelalisib in this disease.”


- Dr. Brad Kahl

The results of the multi-institutional studies, which included the UW Carbone Cancer Center, were published today in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.


Patients with blood cancers typically are treated with a combination of chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which uses the patient’s own immune system to fight the cancer. Over time, patients suffer harmful side effects from chemotherapy and may develop resistance to treatment.


The clinical trials examined the use of a compound called idelalisib in relapsed leukemia and lymphoma patients. Taken in pill form, the compound was given to patients with treatment resistant chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), indolent non-Hodgkin lymphoma (iNHL) and mantle cell lymphoma (MCL).


“Idelalisib is in a new class of treatments that target specific mechanisms without the wide range and harmful side effects of chemotherapy,” said study author Dr. Brad Kahl, associate professor of medicine (hematology and oncology) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health.


A Phase I study evaluated the safety and efficacy of idelalisib in more than 150 patients with CLL, iNHL and MCL. Before joining the trial, the patients had numerous treatments that failed to destroy the cancer or provide remission. The patients then were separated into disease cohorts and given varied doses of the compound.


Study Results Bode Well for Future Research


The studies showed that 72 percent of CLL patients, 47 percent of iNHL patients and 40 percent of MCL patients achieved either a complete or partial response with few side effects.  However, even though MCL patients had a high response rate, the response was not prolonged. Only 22 percent of MCL patients had an extended response to idelalisib.


Kahl said because of the short duration of response in MCL patients, idelalisib probably won’t be designated as a single-agent therapy for MCL. 


“The path forward will likely include administering it in combination with other agents or developing second-generation P13 kinase inhibitors for the treatment of aggressive mantle cell lymphoma,” said Kahl. “This study offers a strong foundation for future research on idelalisib in this disease.”


Idelalisib is now under review by the FDA for treatment of iNHL.

Date Published: 03/10/2014

News tag(s):  researchcancer

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Last updated: 03/10/2014
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