New Novel Therapy Shows Promise for High-Risk CLL/SLL

The Annual Meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH), convened in December 2014, highlighted the expanding array of novel therapy treatments showing promise for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) patients. Covering a gamut of research from expanded analyses of recently approved therapies to promising new drugs and experimental gene therapies, the studies summarized below are just a selection of encouraging clinical results for NHL.

A new therapy in the class of novel agents known as cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors, dinaciclib, has shown promise in early clinical results when used with ofatumumab (Arzerra) in relapsed and refractory chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL). Dinaciclib, which works by targeting a group of proteins that contribute to cancer cell growth, had previously shown activity in high-risk relapsed and refractory CLL and SLL. Researchers hoped combining dinaciclib with ofatumumab, which has already been approved for use in CLL, would simultaneously target two groups of proteins and reduce the risk of hyper acute tumor lysis syndrome (TLS), a severe side effect that can develop during cancer treatment as the dying cancer cells break down. Researchers reported results through July 2014, with 36 patients treated in the study. Though the study is still ongoing, a partial response was recorded for 12 patients (33 percent), with an additional 20 (56 percent) achieving stable disease; only one patient developed TLS. Additionally, the researchers noted that the response rates improved with continued therapy — only 13 patients completed the full therapy with the other patients discontinuing early for a variety of reasons. Further studies are needed to gain a full understanding of the effectiveness of this therapy.

Researchers on this study included two current LRF Clinical Investigator Career Development Award grantees, Farrukh Awan, MD, MS (a 2013 grantee), and Kami Maddocks, MD (a 2015 grantee), both at The Ohio State University. The abstract of the presentation is available here.