Chemotherapy-Free Combo Is Tested in CLL

“A novel immune-based combination therapy for the initial treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) does not appear to improve on results achieved with established regimens that include chemotherapy.

“In a phase 2 study, investigators combined rituximab (Rituxan, MabThera and Roche), the monoclonal antibody widely used for CLL, and lenalidomide (Revlimid, Celgene), an immunomodulatory agent that is not approved in these patients.

“The idea behind the pairing was to avoid chemotherapy, which is generally not well tolerated by older or infirm CLL patients and is part of all regimens containing rituximab, say the investigators, led by Danelle James, MD, from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego.”

Editor’s note: A potential alternative to chemotherapy for chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) was tested in volunteer patients, but did not show improved results over chemo. The treatment combines the drug Rituxan with another drug called Revlimid, which is meant to boost a patient’s immune system to help fight cancer. Researchers hope to test other combinations of non-chemo drugs to see if they will prove more successful.