CLL is a blood cancer that occurs when abnormal white blood cells called lymphocytes accumulate in the blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes or other organs, causing these organs to enlarge. Approximately 15,000 Americans are diagnosed with CLL every year, and nearly 70 percent of those affected are 65 or older. For some patients with a slower progressing disease, many physicians employ “watch and wait” strategies to minimize unnecessary toxic treatments. However, patients with high–risk features or a more rapidly progressing disease require prompt treatment.
While the current standard chemotherapy–based treatment regimen for patients with CLL has been effective in improving outcomes for these patients, it remains highly toxic, prompting additional research to identify strategies to further reduce the treatment burden. Newer drugs that more precisely target pathways and proteins known to trigger CLL development, and leave normal cells unharmed, are proving to be more effective in promoting cancer cell death while safer for the patient. Three studies presented today reveal data on the performance of several new CLL therapies that demonstrate potent effects on key regulators of cancer cell behavior.
“These exciting developments in CLL therapy represent a shift toward treatments that hone in on specific regulators of cancer, ultimately providing a safer and more effective treatment regimen,” said Jennifer R. Brown, MD, PhD, Director of the Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Center at Dana–Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. “These data give us even more reason to believe that the future outlook for CLL patients is bright.”
This press conference will take place on Sunday, December 8, 2013, at 9:30 a.m. CST.
Kassidie Blackstock, FleishmanHillard
Andrea Slesinski, ASH