Promising results from an early phase trial combining the anti-bcl-2 drug Venetoclax with Rituximab to eliminate CLL are presented by Dr Andrew Roberts, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Melbourne, Australia at EHA 2015.
Patients with chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) that has recurred or isn’t responding to standard treatment need new therapies.
A new combination of two targeted therapies is showing potential to eliminate CLL in these circumstances.
The early phase trial combines venetoclax (formerly ABT-199 /GDC-0199) with rituximab.
Venetoclax is a novel, once a day tablet treatment that works by blocking a key protein in CLL cells that keeps them alive, and leads to leukaemia cells dying.
Roberts and colleagues are reporting that 84% of 49 patients with difficult-to-treat CLL are responding.
Remarkably, 41% of all patients have achieved a complete response, many of whom have no leukaemia detectable by very sensitive laboratory tests.
Six patients have stopped all treatment, and five remain free of recurrence.
The importance of these very deep responses for patients with CLL is now being tested in a randomised trial of this combination versus standard chemotherapy (bendamustine) plus rituximab.
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