Last week at the 54th American Society of Hematology Annual Meeting and Exposition in Atlanta, researchers out of MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston reported on interim findings from a multi-center Phase 2 study exploring the use of ibrutinib in patients diagnosed with relapsed or refractory mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), one of the most difficult patient populations to treat.
Their findings show that in this heavily pre-treated patient population, oral ibrutinib induced a response rate as high as 70 percent, which beats any other monotherapy ever tested in MCL patients.
Michael Wang, M.D., associate professor in MD Anderson's Departments of Lymphoma and Myeloma and Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy who also served as lead author of the study, said:
"I believe we are witnessing a breakthrough in mantle cell lymphoma. This is great news for patients... The foundation for this clinical success is based on biology. The B-cell receptor pathway is critical in B-cell lymphoma. BTK is the driver molecule in this pathway, and ibrutinib targets the BTK molecule."
Wang's work includes more than a decade researching mantle cell lymphoma, a (usually) aggressive subtype of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that accounts for about 5 percent of NHL diagnoses. One of the problems with MCL is that many patients respond to frontline chemotherapy, but many of them quickly relapse. Thus finding a new and effective treatment modality for this population is extremely important in changing the outcomes of these patients.
Ibrutinib has also shown some promise against a subtype of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma as well as chronic lymphocytic leukemia.