FDA Approves Brentuximab for Hodgkin Lymphoma and Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma

By Rebecca Elstrom, MD

The FDA granted accelerated approval last week to brentuximab vedotin for use in patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) which has relapsed after 2 prior therapies, and patients with anaplastic large T cell lymphoma (ALCL) which has relapsed after one prior treatment. Weill Cornell Medical College participated in the studies that led to the approval.

Brentuximab vedotin is an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC); that is, a chemotherapy drug which has been attached to a monoclonal antibody in order to deliver the drug more specifically to target cells. In this case, the ADC targets CD30, a protein on the surface of the malignant HL cells and ALCL. Two phase 2 clinical studies were recently completed evaluating activity of brentuximab vedotin in HL patients who had had recurrence following autologous stem cell transplant and in ALCL patients that had relapsed after prior therapy. Response in both patient groups was striking. In HL, 73% of patients responded to treatment, with 32% achieving complete remission.  In ALCL, 86% of patients responded, with 57% achieving complete remission.

Major side effects of brentuximab vedotin in both groups of patients consisted of peripheral neuropathy, decreased blood counts, fatigue, nausea, rash and fever.

While long term results are still under investigation, initial response rates indicate that this drug represents an important new tool in the care of patients without other standard treatment options. Further studies are ongoing investigating how best to incorporate brentuximab vedotin into the routine care of patients with these lymphomas.

New Clinical Trial: Lenalidomide + Rituximab as Front-Line Therapy for Untreated Mantle Cell Lymphoma

Update: this study is closed to enrollment. 

The Weill Cornell Lymphoma Program is now enrolling patients in a new, investigator-initiated phase II study of lenalidomide in combination with rituximab in patients with previously untreated Mantle Cell Lymphoma (MCL). The study is led by Jia Ruan, MD. This study may be a good option for patients with MCL who need to travel to New York City to participate in a trial because lenalidomide, the study medication, can be taken at home. After the first month on study, patients will be seen in clinic on average of once a month.

Significant progress has been made in the treatment of mantle cell lymphoma; however, the majority of patients with Mantle Cell Lymphoma are not cured of their disease with current available chemotherapy-based options. The initial treatment for MCL is not standardized, and intensive chemotherapy does not seem to provide substantial benefit compared to conservative management in terms of long-term survival and quality-of-life measurements.

Researchers have recently discovered that the tumor microenvironment—the normal cells and blood vessels that surround a tumor–can contribute to tumor growth by providing blood supply and creating an environment that allows the tumor to grow. Biological compounds that disrupt the interaction and dependence of tumor cells with their microenvironment have shown promise in lymphoma therapy, including mantle cell lymphoma.

The purpose of this study is to test the synergy of combining lenalidomide, a biological agent that targets the tumor microenvironment, and rituximab, an antibody that targets lymphoma cells. By including a maintenance phase of lenalidomide and rituximab therapy, we hope to improve treatment effectiveness and maintain quality of life for patients. Continue reading “New Clinical Trial: Lenalidomide + Rituximab as Front-Line Therapy for Untreated Mantle Cell Lymphoma”

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