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Posted by on Dec 8, 2018 in Leukemia | 0 comments

In a nutshell

This study looked at the safety and effectiveness of ibrutinib (Imbruvica) added to bendamustine (Treanda) and rituximab (Rituxan) in the treatment of unresponsive chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Researchers found that this treatment improved survival in these patients.

Some background

Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is a type of cancer of the bone marrow. This can lead to abnormal immune cells. It is often treated with chemotherapy and drugs that target the immune system such as bendamustine and rituximab (BR). However, sometimes this treatment does not work or loses effectiveness over time. It is important to research different medication and treatment plans for CLL.

Ibrutinib is a targeted therapy. It works by blocking a protein that promotes the survival of cancer cells. This leads to reduced survival and migration of these cells. The effectiveness of adding ibrutinib to BR treatment in patients with CLL remains under investigation.

Methods & findings

578 patients with CLL were included in this study. Patients received either ibrutinib or placebo daily added to 6 cycles of BR treatment. Then, patients continued treatment with ibrutinib or placebo alone for more than 2 years. Patients were followed up for 34.8 months.

After 3 years, 68% of patients survived without signs of the disease in the ibrutinib group, compared to 13.9% of the placebo group. Overall, 87.2% of patients in the ibrutinib groups responded to treatment, compared to 66.4% in the placebo group. 26.3% of the ibrutinib+BR group had low levels of cancer in the blood after treatment, compared to 6.2% of the placebo+BR group.

Side effects to ibrutinib treatment were more common in the first year (96.9%). Serious side effects were reported in 61.3% of ibrutinib-treated patients. The most common included decreased white blood cells that help fight infection, low platelet (blood cells involved in clotting) count, pneumonia.

The bottom line

The study concluded that ibrutinib with BR treatment improved survival and treatment response in patients with CLL.

The fine print

This study was an update of results of an ongoing clinical trial.

Published By :


Date :

Oct 12, 2018

Original Title :

Updated results from the phase 3 HELIOS study of ibrutinib, bendamustine, and rituximab in relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma.

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