Recent research suggests that the targeted therapies ibrutinib and idelalisib significantly increase survival among individuals with high-risk chronic lymphatic leukemia. The results raise the possibility of these drugs replacing chemotherapy or even stem cell transplantation in the future.
Following treatment with current standard therapies, patients with chronic lymphatic lymphoma survive 1–2 years; however, researchers from the Comprehensive Cancer Center at MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital (Austria) reported that 80% of these patients were alive after 2 years when treated with ibrutinib and idelalisib.
Ibrutinib and idelalisib – small-molecule kinase inhibitors – provide targeted treatment by interrupting the signaling pathways of cancer cells. While both drugs impede cell growth, idelalisib also hinders cancer metastasis.
Investigator Ulrich Jäger (MedUni Vienna and Vienna General Hospital) commented on the research: “We can regard the results of these studies as milestones. We have now started further studies to investigate the two substances in combination. In future, they might even replace chemotherapy and stem cell transplantation to some extent.”
The work also has important implications for cancers models, as Jäger explained: “In targeted therapy, blood cancers serve as a model system for many different types of cancer. Knowledge obtained from hematology is therefore of great interest to other oncologists.”
Blood cancers are a particularly useful model system over solid tumors due to the ease of sampling. “In the case of hematological malignancies, we can obtain millions of cells quickly, easily and cheaply by taking a blood sample or performing a bone marrow puncture and use these for testing,” Jäger continued.