12 June 2019

A powerful combination of cutting-edge drugs has proved effective at treating a form of diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL), a conference has heard.

Researchers from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, USA, have tested the use of a combination of rituximab, lenalidomide and ibrutinib for the non-germinal centre form of DLBCL.

They reported their findings last week at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology in Chicago, USA.

60 patients were recruited to the ‘Smart Start’ trial and received the triple-combination therapy followed by chemotherapy. According to the researchers, nearly 40% appeared free of cancer after the initial treatment, and more than 80% showed a response, before they had received any chemotherapy.

After 12 months, more than 90% of the patients remain in remission, the researchers say.

Study leader Dr Jason Westin said: “The responses we've seen have been remarkable. More than 80% of our patients have responded and around 40% have had a complete response, showing no evidence of cancer, prior to receiving any chemotherapy.”

He added: “Standard treatment for large-cell lymphoma has been largely stagnant for the better part of 40 years, despite many advances in our understanding of the disease and a host of new medications. It's exciting to see an idea that worked in the lab now beginning to yield results and show this is a potentially new way forward to fight this disease.”

Source: Westin, J., Nastoupil, L.J., Fayad, J., Hagemeister, F.B., Oki, Y., Turturro, F., Ahmed, S., Rodriguez, M.A., Lee, H.J., Steiner, R., Nair, R., Parmar, S., Young, K.H., McDonnell, T., Chuang, H., Green, M.R., Neelapu, S.S., Davis, R.E. (2019) “Smart start: Final results of rituximab, lenalidomide, and ibrutinib lead in prior to combination with chemotherapy for patients with newly diagnosed diffuse large B-cell lymphoma”, Oral presentation #7508, 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Presentation abstract available at: https://meetinglibrary.asco.org/record/174713/abstract