A new oral drug called lenalidomide promises positive results in patients with transformed lymphoma with few side effects, according to a new study.
45 per cent patients responded positively when treated with immunomodulatory medication, which kills lymphoma cells by activating the body's natural killer cells and by interrupting cancer cell signaling that leads to cell death.
21 percent showed complete remission, some for more than a year.
"The study results show a remarkable response rate for transformed lymphoma patients who have a very poor prognosis," says Craig Reeder, M.D. (http://www.mayoclinic.org/bio/10010343.html), Mayo Clinic hematologist (http://www.mayoclinic.org/hematology-oncology-sct/) and principal investigator for the phase II study at Mayo Clinic's Arizona (http://www.mayoclinic.org/arizona/) campus.
Although majority of patients responded well to the drug, results varied by the particular type of transformed lymphoma.
Dr. Reeder notes that while the number of patients treated with lenalidomide was small, the results are promising because of the response rate, the length of the response, and the simplicity of treatment. In patients who responded, the positive effect of lenalidomide was seen for a median of nearly 13 months.
Compared to chemotherapy drugs, lenalidomide is easy to administer and is well tolerated. "Its appeal is that it's not toxic to the patient," he says. Side effects were considered mild and included low white blood cell counts.
Further studies are needed to confirm its role in treating patients with transformed lymphoma.
The international study, involving 24 medical centers in the United States and Europe, will be presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (http://www.asco.org/) annual meeting June 4-8, 2010, in Chicago.