Monoclonal Antibodies have been used as CLL treatment for at least twenty years. The medication targets a protein on CLL cells called CD20.
Dr. Nicole Lamanna, a leukemia specialist at Columbia University Medical Center says some patients experience minor side effects when they initially begin taking this kind of intravenous medication. Doctors will start patients off with a pre-medication to get their bodies used to the drugs, and up to 50% percent of those patients may experience a reaction on the initial exposure to the transfusion that could include a change in blood pressure and/or fever or chills. In subsequent transfusions however, that reaction rate drops to 10% or less.
Rituximab is the oldest drug in this class and is used widely in CLL treatment. When it is combined with chemotherapy, it enhances the ability to kill CLL cells. More recently, a drug called obinutuzumab was approved as an initial therapy for CLL – and Dr. Matthew Davids, Associate Director of the Center for CLL at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, says it’s proving to be even more potent than rituximab in clinical trials and is leading to longer remissions.
For patients diagnosed with CLL, the go-to treatment option is usually some form of chemo-immunotherapy. But this is not an option for all patients.
Oral Medicine for Relapsed CLL: Venetoclax
Oral Medicine for CLL: Ibrutinib
Oral Medicine for Relapsed CLL