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ASCO: Rx Strategies Promising for CLL Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Ibrutinib, obinutuzumab slow progression of CLL, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

MONDAY, June 1, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Two new targeted treatments have shown promise in slowing the progression of recurring chronic-lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and slow-growing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, researchers report. Both findings were to be presented Saturday at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology, held from May 29 to June 2 in Chicago.

In one trial, ibrutinib appeared to greatly improve standard treatment for patients with recurring CLL. Ibrutinib (Imbruvica) reduced the risk of cancer progression or death by 80 percent when combined with bendamustine (Treanda) and rituximab (Rituxan), compared to the other two drugs being used on their own, the researchers found.

The ibrutinib trial involved 578 patients with recurring CLL. They were randomly assigned to receive either the usual two-drug treatment, or ibrutinib alongside the standard treatment. And while patients faced side effects from all three cancer drugs, the researchers found that no new side effects emerged from combining the medications.

Meanwhile, the obinutuzumab (Gazyva) clinical trial included 396 patients with various types of slow-growing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Obinutuzumab targets the CD20 protein, located on the surface of all B cells. According to previous research, when monoclonal antibodies attach to this protein, lymphoma cells either die or become more sensitive to chemotherapy. Patients were randomly assigned to receive just the chemotherapy drug bendamustine, or a combination of bendamustine and obinutuzumab. After an average follow-up of 21 months, progression-free survival was 14 months for bendamustine alone versus 29 months for the combination therapy, the investigators found.

The ibrutinib study received funding from Janssen Research & Development. The obinutuzumab study received funding from Genentech and Hoffmann-La Roche.

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