Lymphoma treatments have expanded far beyond chemotherapy, though that type of treatment still has its place. Newly approved and in-the-pipeline lymphoma treatments now include monoclonal antibodies, immunotherapies that harness the body’s own immune system, and targeted therapies.
Imbruvica (ibrutinib) is an oral medication that works by blocking a specific protein in the body’s B cells called Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK). BTK signaling is needed for abnormal B cells to multiply and survive. By blocking BTK, Imbruvica may help move abnormal B cells out of their nourishing environments in the lymph nodes, bone marrow, and other organs. Imbruvica is showing durable responses in people with chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), marginal zone lymphoma (MZL), diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) and follicular non-Hodgkin lymphoma (fNHL).
Individuals with CLL who harbor the 17p deletion can benefit from a new targeted therapy called Venclexta (venetoclax). Venclexta is the first FDA-approved treatment that targets the B-cell lymphoma 2 (BCL-2) protein which supports cancer cell growth and is overexpressed in many people with CLL.
A new monoclonal antibody option for lymphoma patients was also recently approved. Gazyva (obinutuzumab) reportedly helped patients with previously untreated fNHL live significantly longer without their disease worsening compared to Rituxan-based treatment.
Immunotherapy has also demonstrated promising results in the management of lymphoma. Both check point inhibitors and CAR-T cell therapy appear promising in the management of HD and NHL.
Opdivo® (nivolumab) and Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) belong to a new class of medicines called PD-1 inhibitors that have generated great excitement for their ability to help the immune system recognize and attack cancer. PD-1 is a protein that inhibits certain types of immune responses, allowing cancer cells to evade an attack by certain immune cells. Drugs that block the PD-1 pathway enhance the ability of the immune system to fight cancer.
CancerConnect News coverage of advances in the management of HD & NHL included the following key developments in 2016:
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