Results from an international clinical trial led by BC Cancer oncologist, Dr. Joseph Connors, reveal a promising new treatment combination for patients with advanced Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Connors, recognized this past year as one of the World's Most Influential Scientific Minds, has a historical career of innovating effective new treatment options that have greatly improved outcomes for people facing lymphoma.
It is especially challenging to identify new and better treatments for cancers like Hodgkin’s lymphoma because the success rate is already high. However, up to 25 to 30 per cent of patients are still not cured today.
Brentuximab vedotin (Adcetris®, Seattle Genetics) is a new selective agent for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and takes advantage of the exquisite targeting that can be achieved by joining a monoclonal antibody with a potent cell disruptor.
The monoclonal antibody part of brentuximab vedotin sticks to a chemical structure on the surface of Hodgkin’s lymphoma cells and is then pulled into the cell where the potent chemotherapy drug monomethyl-auristatin E is released poisoning the cancer cells and sparing the patient’s normal cells.
The new treatment combination offers hope to Hodgkin’s lymphoma patients around the world with advanced stage disease where their cancer may otherwise have been resistant to the current best chemotherapy treatment.
“Our study outcome is positive with the new regimen curing more patients than the old standard regimen,” says Connors.
"Our clinical trial demonstrates that adding brentuximab to three other standard chemotherapy drugs results in a combination that eliminates the lymphoma in about 25 per cent more patients than standard chemotherapy and does this without causing any major new toxic effects.”
Connors presented the study results, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, at the American Society of Hematology plenary session last month among 20,000 of the world’s scientific and medical leaders in lymphoma. The significant, international, randomized, phase III ECHELON-1 study enrolled 1,334 patients testing the new drug combo against the current standard therapy used world-wide.
Nearly 1,000 Canadians will be diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma this year and for those facing advanced disease, new treatment options are critical in growing survival outcomes. The disease affects more than 66,000 new people around the world each year and approximately 30 per cent of these people will face treatment resistance or recurrent disease.
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