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Drug Mix Shows Major Shift in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Treatment

A combination of two medicines keeps sufferers with chronic lymphocytic leukemia disease-free and alive longer than the present standard of care, according to a phase-3 clinical trial of over 500 contributors conducted at Stanford Medicine and various other establishments.

The results of the trial are likely to change how most people with common blood cancer are treated in the future, the researchers consider.

Shanafelt, who’s the Jeanie and Stewart Ritchie Professor, is the creator of the study, which shall be published Aug. 1 in The New England Journal of Medicine. The senior writer is Martin Tallman, MD, head of the leukemia service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Facility.

Currently, CLL sufferers who’re fit enough to tolerate vigorous treatment are treated intravenously with a mix of three drugs, two of which—fludarabine and cyclophosphamide—kill healthy as well as diseased cells by meddling with DNA replication, and another, rituximab, that specifically targets the B cells that run amok through the disease. However, fludarabine and cyclophosphamide can cause significant side effects such as extreme blood complications and life-threatening infections, which are difficult for many sufferers to tolerate.

The new drug combines rituximab with one other drug, ibrutinib, which additionally mainly targets B cells.

In the trial, 529 members with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia were randomly selected in a 2:1 ratio to receive either six courses of ibrutinib and rituximab, followed by ibrutinib till their disease progressed, or six programs of traditional chemotherapy consisting of the medicines fludarabine, cyclophosphamide, and rituximab.

Rosenbaum, a companion in a global strategy consulting agency and enthusiastic tennis player, was one of the members randomly assigned to receive the trial treatment. He observed a difference in his symptoms immediately.

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